CHENNAI: The city is bracing for Cyclone Nilam, which is likely to bring heavy rain and gusty winds that could reach speeds up to 65kmph.
By 5pm on Tuesday, the cyclone was 500km southeast of Chennai. It was stationary for more than 12 hours but started moving in a north-northwesterly direction, and is likely to cross the shore between Nellore in AP and Cuddalore in TN. “Chennai will have a bit of rough weather on Wednesday evening as the cyclone moves closer,” said IMD deputy director general Y E A Raj.
The system started as a trough of low pressure over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands on Friday.
The Tamil Nadu and Puducherry governments have put their disaster management cells on high alert as they gear up to face the onslaught of Cyclone Nilam, expected to cross the coast in northern Tamil Nadu or southern Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday evening.
There will be heavy rain, but the wind speed is expected to be in the region of 50kmph to 65kmph, much lower than last year’s Thane, which, blowing at 140kmph, uprooted trees, damaged houses and wreaked havoc in many coastal districts. Still, the government does not want to take chances and is prepared to meet any eventuality, said officials in the disaster management department. Also, there are fears that at the time of landfall, the speed of wind could get close to 90kmph.
Warning signals have been put up at all ports and fishermen have been advised not to venture into the sea.
Learning lessons from Thane, which disrupted power supply in many parts of Cuddalore district for about 25 days, the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board has made arrangements for quick restoration of lines this time. Enough electric poles and other equipment have been kept in reserve for this purpose, said a TNEB official.
Commissioner for disaster management and mitigation Jatindranath Swain said 22 departments had been engaged to ensure proper coordination in relief operations in all coastal districts. Senior IAS officials had been sent to 13 coastal districts to monitor disaster management preparedness and relief operations there. Even interior districts are in a state of alert, he said.
Close on the heels of a review meeting chaired by chief minister J Jayalalithaa on October 20, all district collectors have readied relief camps for people evacuated from their houses.
A battalion of national disaster response force and two battalions of the state disaster response force are in Chennai so that they can move to any part of the state in case of a crisis. A month’s food supply has been stocked in all coastal districts to feed those who come to relief camps, said Swain.
Puducherry district collector S B Deepak Kumar said the administration had formed 16 ‘quick response teams’ and established a 24-hour control room with the toll free number 1077 manned by a tahsildar to assist the public.
He said the relief centres were ready to accommodate people evacuating from low-lying regions. There are 12,000-odd families in 15 fishing hamlets along the 24km coastline between Kanagachettikulam and Moorthikuppam in the Union territory and the administration has kept all cyclone shelters in the villages ready. The Puducherry government has declared a holiday for private and government schools and colleges for the third consecutive day on Wednesday.
Cuddalore district collector Rajendra Ratnoo said three zonal officers had been appointed in each of the 13 blocks in the district to oversee rescue and relief activities. The officials visited vulnerable regions on Tuesday. “We have put all officers on high alert. We have set up community kitchens with adequate essential commodities and manpower,” Ratnoo said.
Reservoirs Reach Capacity
Most water bodies were brimming to capacity following the incessant rain on Wednesday. The water level in Veeranam Lake, a prime water source for Chennai, stood at 44.8 feet as against the full capacity of 47.5 feet on Tuesday. The level at Sathanur dam was 82.5 feet (full capacity 119 feet), Gomuki dam 43.6 feet (full capacity 46 feet), Manimutharu 27.4 feet (full capacity 36 feet), Perumal lake 5.5 feet (full capacity 6.5 feet), and Wellington lake 11.3 feet (capacity 27.4 feet) WAITING FOR THE STORM Shelters 22 Govt Departments Readied For People Are Ready Living to Near Coordinate The Sea Relief Efforts.
What is a CYCLONE?
A revolving storm caused by winds blowing around an area of low atmospheric pressure. In the southern hemisphere where the winds blow in a clockwise direction, tropical storms are known as cyclones, in the northern hemisphere where the winds blow anti-clockwise, they are called hurricanes.