Chennai, a city of 4.6 million people on India’s southeast coast, has been all but destroyed by record flooding. As the floodwaters begin to recede, a massive relief effort is under way to rescue those still stranded and provide clean water and supplies to shelters.
“This is something of a megadestruction movie,” said Srinivasan, who lives in the city’s suburb of Nungambakkam told CNN news. “It’s bizarre and unreal.”
The National Disaster Response Force of India reports that flooding has killed over 250 people in the region since October, and has displaced over 25,000. The flooding destroyed the city infrastructure, knocking out power, internet, telephones, and transportation services. In early December, reconstruction efforts were set back as over 15 inches of rain fell in 2 days, following a massive 47 inches in November (more than 3 times the average monthly rainfall.)
While full restoration of city services may take time, citizens and government are looking to high tech solutions to assist. Local tech workers have created a crowdsourcing site, www.chennairains.org, to provide people with sources of food and shelter using their smartphones or computers. And the Chennai City Police has been using drones to locate people stranded in certain inaccessible parts of the city, reports The Hindu.
A senior officer of the Chennai police said that the force has deployed drones in several of the most unreachable neighborhoods, and have been able to locate as many as 200 people, rescuing all of them. The search and rescue operation sends drones up from a control vehicle. The aerial images obtained are then sent to a control room, where staff reviews footage and pinpoints affected homes and people. When a rescue site is identified, the control room communicates with teams of volunteers nearest to the location through wireless walkie-talkie, sending rescue workers to retrieve victims stranded in their homes.
Chennai officials hope that the rains may be over for now as services are slowly reinstated. Power lines are mostly back on in the city, and some train services have been resumed, allowing victims of the flooding to get to family outside of the affected areas.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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