12 June, 2021

A Storm With Tusks

Slow relief work after Cyclone Gaja made the afflicted erupt

Rubble Coast
A view of the damage at Velankanni, Nagapattinam district
Photograph by PTI
A Storm With Tusks

Formed early this month off the coast of Thailand as a low pressure area, Cyclone Gaja gathered ferocity on its way to Tamil Nadu. When it hit the state on November 15-16, it ravaged four districts.

Initial reports suggested the state had prepared well for the storm, with the aff­ected being evacuated to safe locations. The casualty count too was low during this time. But as the days went by, the number of dead crossed 40. “Only when we reached the interior areas and villages of the districts did we see the extent of the damage. More than 90,000 tress had been uprooted, blocking many roads. Our relief staff could reach villages only after clearing some of them,” said a senior IAS officer supervising relief measures.

The delay in relief reaching interior areas meant those regions were languishing without power, water and food for three days. By the time the first convoy of officials drove through the badly affected Kotha­mangalam Taluk in Pudukottai district, the people there had become so frustrated and angry that they set ablaze five jeeps...

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