TN braces for heavy rains; CM says no ‘selfies’

TN braces for heavy rains; CM says no ‘selfies’

A boy plays football on a cloudy day at Marina beach in Chennai, on Friday. The Indian Meteorological Department has issued a warning predicting heavy to very heavy rainfall in the region with a red alert announced for three districts of Kerala – Idukki, Palakkad and Thrissur for October 7. PTI

The Tamil Nadu government on Friday braced itself to handle heavy rains that are likely to lash the state on Sunday by asking all district administration to move people living in low-lying areas to safety and be prepared for any eventuality.

Chairing a high-level meeting with senior ministerial colleagues and officials, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami also advised district collectors to check on the ground whether fishermen who ventured into the sea have returned to their base and keep feeding crucial information on rains to the people through the conventional and social media.

The review meeting asked collectors of districts that are located along the Western Ghats to be more alert and keep their official machinery prepared to handle the crisis if any. And, more importantly, the meeting also asked 1,278 personnel of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) to be prepared to fly out of Chennai to districts if necessary.

With incidents of deaths being reported due to the craze for clicking pictures during rains, the chief minister appealed to the people not to click ‘selfies’ in the flood water.

“Messages asking people to move to safer places in case of heavy rains, asking them not to click selfies and advising farmers to move their cattle to safer places should be transmitted every now and then,” Palaniswami said in a statement.

Separately, the NDRF is also keeping its teams ready to be flown out of Chennai, if necessary, even as the Union Government promised all help to Tamil Nadu to handle the situation that would arise out of the IMD prediction.

Officials said over 30,000 first responders – a team of volunteers and locals well-versed with the topography of the area – would be involved in case of emergency.

This is the first time in three years that Tamil Nadu has been issued a red alert for rains. In 2015, when the last red alert was issued, the city of Chennai was swamped as the majority of the areas were under the water for days together. The city’s lone airport was closed for a week, buses were off the roads and major roads were inundated due to excess release of water from the city’s reservoirs and heavy rains.