Monday, 30th October 2017

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Amphan ravaged city, corridors flooded, look like a dark reptile

Power lines snap, phone lines down, WiFi slow & erratic; over 500 trees uprooted

By TT Bureau in Calcutta
  • Published 21.05.20, 3:29 AM
  • Updated 21.05.20, 3:36 PM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
An avalanche of foliage blankets a road off Victoria Memorial on Wednesday afternoon just when Cyclone Amphan was beginning to unleash its explosive power on Calcutta. Picture by Pradip Sanyal

Calcutta's waterlogged roads looked like a dark and slithering reptile on Wednesday night as howling winds continued to haunt the city's deserted, Amphan-ravaged corridors.

Snapped power lines left many parts of the city without electricity, and the utilities got overwhelmed by distress calls.

Phone lines were down and even the generally reliable Wi-Fi at home could no longer be trusted.

Calcutta had not in decades heard anything like the roar of Wednesday's winds nor seen anything like its toppling power.

Portions of at least 10 buildings collapsed but fortunately there were no casualties.

Neither police nor the |civic bodies had an estimate of how many trees had fallen. "Many, many," officials |kept saying. Teams with electric saws and fluorescent jackets were everywhere, yet too few.

At least 200 electric poles and 200 trees were uprooted in the Calcutta municipal area alone, said one official.

He immediately added: "It's a very rough estimate as the storm is yet to leave the city. We are still assessing the damage. It will take till |Thursday morning to know the real extent of the destruction."

Nearly 500 trees fell in Salt Lake and many more tumbled in parts of Rajarhat, along VIP Road and Kaikhali.

When the power lines came back to life, there was a new problem: iron gates |and other objects got electrified at several places from |cables that lay deep under water.

People got a scare in Salt Lake's EE block when a lamppost that had collapsed on a waterlogged street along with live wires flickered back to life as power was restored.

Large parts of Kasba, Dum Dum, Salt Lake, Baranagar, Ballygunge, Jadavpur, Jodhpur Park, Behala and many other places were plunged into darkness late into Wednesday night.

Drinking water was a big worry across electricity-less households, as was the threat of mobile phones going dead.

The Met office at Alipore recorded 222mm of rain till 8.30pm. Dum Dum had received 194mm.

Calcutta's drainage system is designed to squirt out 6mm water in an hour. "So, if it rains more than 6mm an hour, water-logging is inevitable," said a civic engineer.

He said the civic body was trying to drain out the water faster by operating extra pumps in low-lying areas and running all the pumps at the pumping stations.

The water-logging has deepened concerns about drinking water at a time the city is in the grip of a pandemic.

Over 6,000 people across Calcutta have been relocated to school buildings and civic community centres that had been converted into storm shelters.

If the Covid-19 scare had largely brought out the ugly neighbour in the Calcuttan, the cyclone did the city one good turn: people came together in many localities to fight its ravages.

If people were trying to plug a hole to prevent water from seeping into a neighbour's house at one place, at another they were collectively trying to drain water out of an inundated pump room or helping a car owner without a driver find a safe corner for his vehicle.

Many cars needed new safe spots because of flooded basement parking lots and falling trees.

The Park hotel said its swimming pool was overflowing and the roof of its lift room had been blown away.