India’s state of Tamil Nadu has seen the worst rain deluge in more than a century. The flooding has essentially paralyzed the city of Chennai - closing the local airport, business offices, stores and automobile factories. The city has a population of about 5 million, and when including its suburbs that number rises to about 9 million.
Media coverage showed families wading through neck-deep water, flooded office buildings and stranded planes sitting on the airfield. Many factories shut down for a second day straight, including those of BMW and Ford. Other companies declared holidays for their staff.
Much of the city consists of low-lying neighborhoods which were simply submerged due to the unrelenting downpour. Adding to the misery was numerous power outages across the area. Members of India’s army and navy were called in to help rescuers trying to evacuate helpless citizens. Chennai’s local airport will remained closed for at least a week - thereby stranding over 25 jets.
Deepak Shastri, the airfield’s director, stated that, “No one should venture out of their homes. I don’t think any flight is possible for at least a week. There’s a forecast for more rains, and we will need to clean up the debris in the entire field after that.”
Many companies including Hyundai Motor Co., Renault and Ashok Leyland have manufacturing plants in Chennai, and the floods are affecting production. Daimler’s truck unit also closed its manufacturing plant due to the rains.
To make matters worse, according to the Indian Meteorological Department, rain and thunderstorms are forecasted for certain areas of the city until at least December 7th.
Three of four reservoirs in Chennai are just about at full capacity.
S.S. Guleria, a deputy inspector general at India’s National Disaster Response Force, reported that, “It’s the first time Chennai has seen anything like this.” He did note however, that it does not appear that any major casualties have occurred so far.
According to the forecaster Skymet, Chennai suffered a record 48 inches of precipitation in November.