Fr. Vimal of the Indian District shares the following about recent flooding in Chennai. The SCJs have two houses there: a formation residence and the district offices. Approximately 60 people have died because of the flooding; much of the city’s infrastructure has been disrupted for over two weeks.
Monsoon season began slowly this year but in recent weeks we have more than made up for it. Chennai and Tiruvallur (the district where we are present) have borne the brunt of the northeast storms, hit with heavy storms for more than two weeks.
Life in these two districts has come to a standstill. Schools, colleges and businesses have been shut for nearly 10 days because of the monsoon’s fury. Transportation slowed, resulting in the delay and cancellation of trains and buses over a period of three days. The price of vegetables is going up every day. This unprecedented rain has damaged all the roads with flooding and fallen trees.
There has been no single day without rainfall for the past 12 days. Some days were very frightening because of the lightening and thunder. The power often goes out frequently; whenever we have power we charge our emergency lights not knowing how long the power will last.
Our Dehon Jyothi Community (pre-candidates)_ is situated in a town called Avadi in the Tiruvallur District. It has been greatly affected by the flood. We have a lake just few meters away from our house that is now flooding, spilling water toward all of the nearby houses. Our house is fully surrounded by it.
A few days back we had water up to our knees just in front of our gate. We could not move anywhere. All the canals in front of our house are full to their brim; giving a foul smell at times. It has been two weeks since we had our sports outside. All of our spaces for football, cricket, volleyball and badminton (a new court!) have disappeared under water.
Catching fish has been our only diversion. Fr. Alex, an expert fisherman, took our brothers out to catch fish. The first day we went with our mosquito nets and we got plenty of fish but the rain kept pouring in, increasing the water level once again. We stopped fishing out of fear of the water snakes. We could see so many snakes going and coming across the water every day. We even killed a poisonous snake in our house. Now, the brothers have started to catch the fish with hooks just standing by the compound wall. Fr. Alex makes a delicious fish fry every day. We have so many fish that we share them with our neighbors. Some people still come to our house to catch fish every day.
The biggest problem we face during our rainy season is mosquitoes. Likewise, water snakes and frogs come to visit us occasionally to take shelter in our house. Sleeping without the mosquito net is a real nightmare. To go outside, we have to ride our motorbike in the water, which is really an adventure here!
The second biggest concern is with the situation of our cook’s house. It was totally flooded with rainwater. She had to go and live in her daughter’s house for some days and was unable to come for her regular work. Meanwhile, Fr. Alex and the brothers took up cooking and managing the house. Everyday the brothers are experimenting with some new dishes; I am happy that they are succeeding! Looking at the condition of our cook’s house, we were able to help with a little financial assistance. She has also approached government officials for help. I hope she receives some assistance from them too.
I am sure that it will take some days and weeks to get back to normal life in Chennai, hoping for the best for the coming days!