Visit to the shelter that's now home to an entire colony submerged by the Adyar river
Visit to the shelter that's now home to an entire colony submerged by the Adyar river

Visit to the shelter that's now home to an entire colony submerged by the Adyar river

They don't know if they'll have jobs or work when the waters recede

For Josefinny (40) and her husband Jaybalan (40) who used to run a tea business in Thedeer Nagar in Chennai, life has come to a complete stop. Everything they has either been submerged or washed away. Now, as they wait for the water to recede, they are worried about how they will survive later, with no homes and jobs.     

The houses of around 3,000 families in Thedeer Nagar have seen various levels of submersion for the past 20 days as the Adyar river overflowed. They are now living in shelter homes in set up in Chennai High School, Chennai Middle School on Modern School Road and Church Park School on Greams Road.

Some people had gone back to their houses four days ago but returned to the shelter homes on Monday night after their homes got completely submerged by water overflowing from the Adyar.

“We had returned to our homes on Sunday and water was just till knee-level and thought it will get better. But on Monday night, we had to run from our homes and reach shelter homes again. We are wearing the same clothes for the past two days,” said A Velu, a security guard at a private company.

“The river water was coming through our walls and floors,” said Anju, who works at Greams stationery.

Amit Badshah who is at the shelter home set up at Chennai High School said that he did not expect that their houses will completely get submerged in the river water.

Ambika, (26) got married just a month ago. “Everything is washed away in the flood, all our money and new clothes. We have been staying here for the past two days.”

Many people have lost their identity proofs also. “I lost my child’s birth certificate, Voter ID card and Pan card”, said Usha (23), who was working as a domestic help.

The biggest problem for people of Thedeer Nagar is that there are no clothes to change.

Ezhilarasi (25), staying at Chennai High School shelter home at Greams Road said, “We want clothes at least for our children.”

“I have not changed my clothes for the past two days”, said Kanmani, a housewife.

Although a shelter home has been set up in Chennai High School, there is no space left. Jananki Kumar (43), a housewife said, “We have been living in autos for the past two days. We cannot even sleep at night.”

Several people have either been injured during the flooding or are coping with medical conditions they already had but access to medical care is not an option for some.

Sukumaran, an auto driver fell into water and fractured his hand on November 15, 2015. He still has not been able to go to a hospital and it is swollen up. Karthikeyan (50), a watchman, says he’s had a wheeze for the last 15 days. Sumathi contracted a fever a week ago and has been going to a hospital repeatedly.

No income

With no homes, and everything around them in water, no one from the area has been able to work for the last 20 days. Rani Das, who used to run a food stall, has no idea when she will be able to reopen her business.

Ezhilarasi and Brownie Palani, who are both domestic workers, do not even know whether the houses they were working in will take them back for work.

Jagadesan, a 33-year-old auto-driver said, “I have not taken out my auto for the past 20 days. How can I go for work in such a condition?”

Salai Umapati, Division Secretary of Thousand Lights mosque which is in the area, said, “We had announced on Saturday that there will be floods in areas like Thedeer Nagar, Makhis Garden and Rangoon Street but many people stayed at their homes instead of shifting to shelter homes. Now we are providing food at all the shelter homes. About 5,000 people have been affected in total.”

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