Role of various sectors in demonstrating resilience during Chennai flood 2015
History repeated itself in the city of Chennai on November- December 2015, when the devastating flood claimed more than 470 lives and resulted in enormous economic loss. The city and its suburb recorded several days between November 2015 to December 2015 of torrential rainfall, which inundated coastal districts of Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur, and affected more than 4 million people with economic damages costing around US$3 billion (The National 2015).
Death of 18 patients in MIOT International Hospital was reported on December 5, 2015. This hospital being located close to Adyar River, had the power units supplying power to the ventilators of patients in critical condition damaged by flood waters (The Hindu 2015). Over 18 lakh (1.8 million) people were displaced because of the flooding event. About 30.42 lakh (3.042 million) families suffered total or partial damage to their dwellings; 3,82,768 lakh hectares of crops were lost to floods, including over 3.47 lakh hectares of agricultural crops and 35,471 hectares of horticultural crops. Roughly 98,000 livestock animals and poultry died (Narasimhan, Bhallamudi, Mondal, Ghosh & Majumdar 2016).
Widespread impact of 2015 flood brought people and institutions in and around Chennai together, to provide support to the flood victims. Help arrived from different sections of society and in a variety of forms. These documented case studies provides an insight into the actions undertaken by government departments, institutions, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), civil defense, private enterprises, Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and social media during the flood incident. Understanding of their interventions and some of the challenges faced can help urban local bodies better prepare for such extreme event eventualities.
Mainstreaming of some of the actions taken by the institutions can help cities better their coping mechanisms and build climate resilience. Best practices can be derived from the same to strengthen the existing risk handling capacities of the city as well as learn lessons and replicate similar initiatives for preparedness across some of the other Indian cities.
We expect these case studies will also help urban local bodies and other government agencies understand some of the challenges that are likely to emerge during urban flood disasters and use some of the learning to create coordination and collaboration mechanisms to ensure efficient rescue and response operations in future.