What should be learned from cyclone Michaung and other natural disasters?

What should be learned from cyclone Michaung and other natural disasters?

The repercussions of cyclone Michaung was serious in Chennai; the city was affected with substantial damage. The cyclone also didn’t leave southern Andhra. The Meteorological Department even issued a Red Alert, and schools and colleges will remain close till December 11th. Water logging has been reported in various parts of Chennai, and water even went inside several houses. Since December 4th, electricity was cut, and it was restored only on December 7th in several places.  The shortage of essentials including drinking water and milk has aggravated the situation. Even trains have been cancelled or delayed due to the bad weather conditions. It has been reported that the rainfall that was recorded due to this natural disaster is the highest since the past 47 years.

People are highly impacted by this cyclone and discuss several important aspects related to it. But when the topic diverts to the endurance of roads and houses because of cyclones, it should be pondered over carefully. Nature is unpredictable: a glaring example is the damage caused to Chennai. But should this be an excuse for not being prepared for cyclones?

Now people may argue over the position of Chennai (especially being the capital city) to withstand cyclones and heavy rains. The resilience of Chennai’s (for that matter any other city) infrastructure including roads, drainage systems, and public facilities should be given due consideration.

So friends, cyclones and rainfalls wreaking havoc in a city is really saddening. Government authorities, local communities and environmental agencies should take the necessary steps for disaster preparedness because when it comes to displacement of properties and sometimes even deaths, it is a matter of significant concern. The government may claim that they are well-prepared but the aftermath of such disasters presents a different picture. Even when cyclone Michaung moved towards Andhra Pradesh, certain parts of Chennai still didn’t have power or mobile signal. Just think about the mental stress of the residents in such places. My area was also affected but not as much as certain other areas.  But that didn’t stop me from writing this blog.

Some of those who had sufficient money moved into hotels (but not all; even some such people stayed at their homes). What about those who are not so financially well; they were stranded or moved to their hometowns. Photos of cars being washed away in social media started doing the rounds. Now there are even questions of where will the flood water go. Is it being drained into the sea?

We say things are changing and there seem to be promises, but the real picture doesn’t show so. The loss of lives due to floods is something that I cannot digest, mainly because there should be better preparedness. When we say there can be more boats, more rescue teams etc. why don’t we say we will be better prepared? Isn’t being proactive better than being reactive in the face of natural disasters? Isn’t mitigation better than restoration?  The government is promoting Chennai as a Smart City but the aftermath of Cyclone Michaung is pathetic. What about unplanned construction, constructing houses in the vicinity of lakebeds etc.?

When things are bad we regret for not being well-prepared (this could even refer to government authorities, local communities, and environmental agencies). It’s a wise thing to take disaster preparedness measures even when things are good so that we can tolerate the fury of natural disasters.

It should be noted that Chennai is developing massively on her own in other spheres, and the cyclone and its aftermath cannot be the main reason for neglecting her. And yes, the ethos of the city has a lasting impact on the residents including those from other places who consider Chennai (or any other pace that is flooded)  as their beloved home.

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