Chennai: Cyclone ‘Vardah’ is expected to make landfall this afternoon in Tamil Nadu, and the coastal areas of the state have experienced heavy rain and strong winds since morning. Tamil Nadu and its neighbour Andhra Pradesh are on high alert and teams from the Navy and the National Disaster Response Force are on standby. Cyclone Vardah is likely to make landfall near Pulicat, around 60 km from Chennai, with wind speeds of around 80 to 100 km an hour. By the time it makes landfall, its intensity is expected to reduce considerably. In Chennai, all schools and colleges have been ordered shut today.
Heavy rains and gusty winds lashed the northern coastal districts of Tamil Nadu, including Chennai today. Power supply was suspended in many parts of these regions as a precautionary measure.
The Met department says the sea will be rough along and off the Andhra Pradesh and north Tamil Nadu coasts. Rain is expected to gradually increase in the northern districts of Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram. The fishermen have been asked to avoid the sea for the next 48 hours.
People in low-lying areas have been asked to move to safer zones even as various government departments prep to deal with a possible crisis. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, who took office last week after J Jayalalithaa’s death, held a meeting of the State Disaster Management Authority.
“Arrangements to be made for evacuating people in low lying and vulnerable areas. Relief centres to be kept in readiness along with necessary food, water and other arrangements. Army, Navy, Air-force and Coast Guard have been alerted to be on standby for deployment as and when necessary,” a statement from the chief minister’s office said.
The Tamil Nadu government has declared holiday on Monday for schools and colleges in Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur, besides coastal areas of Villupuram. The Tamil Nadu Government has also asked private offices to allow their staff to take a day off or work from home.
National Disaster Management Authority, in a tweet, advised people “to remain in safe places and cooperate with state government officials and disaster management agencies”.
The armed forces and teams of the National Disaster Response Force are on standby. Senior officials have been sent to the districts that are likely to be on the path of the cyclone.
The Navy said it is ready for relief operations. Their ships have additional divers, doctors, inflatable rubber boats, integral helicopters and relief material including food, tents, clothes, medicines and blankets fit for over 5,000 people. Besides, 30 diving teams with additional relief material are kept on standby.
The storm is expected to damage thatched huts, power and communication lines. Paddy crops and orchards may also be affected in Chennai, Thiruvallur and Kanchipuram districts of Tamil Nadu; Ongole and Nellore districts of Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry, the Met department said in its advisory.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu also reviewed the situation through teleconference with top officials on Sunday evening. Food and other essential commodities have been kept ready in adequate quantities,he said.