Lest We Forget in 2019, Cyclone Gaja Caused Great Damage in TN

On 16 November, Cyclone Gaja hit the Cauvery Delta Region, popularly known as the rice bowl of Tamil Nadu. Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, Thiruvarur, and Puthukottai districts witnessed severe damages due to the cyclone.

According to the government report, 65 people were killed, over 2.5 lakh people displaced, 1.34 lakh electric poles damaged, about 50 lakh coconut trees uprooted, and more than 50,000 huts completely damaged because of the cyclone.

More than a month has passed since, but the people who rely on agriculture are still struggling to get back to normal life. In some manner, the people have even compared Gaja with the Tsunami of 2004. Hence, 2018 is a unforgettable year for the Cauvery Delta community.

On a trip to the Cauvery Delta as a part of a documentary project, I tried to capture the damage in photographs to understand how the cyclone ravaged the place.

Agricultural labourers from Kannithoppu village of Nagapattinam district rush to collect food materials from private relief workers. 

This region was heavily affected by the Gaja cyclone, with hundreds of people living in temporary shelters.

In midst of heavy rains, a group of women wait to collect the food for relief. 
Fartha Banu, a woman living in Thathanthiruvasal, depends on government pension. She has now lost her only hut. She and her grandson look at the wreckage in a hope of recovering old materials.
Agricultural labourers involved in the work of clearing fallen teak tree from a fish pond. 

“Teak and other valuable trees, which used to cost more than Rs 20,000, are now getting priced at a few hundreds bucks. It does not even help to clear the farm land,” one of the farmers said.

Ramamoorthy looking at the soaked law books of daughter Abinaya, practicing lawyer at Nagapattinam District Court.

During the cyclone, the wall of Ramamoorthy’s house in Sundarpandiyam village collapsed and fell on Abinaya’s right hand. Upon being admitted to a government hospital, they learned that she had fractured it.

Ponnuchamy, a 72-year-old man from Thirukundaiyur village, drying match sticks in front of his house.
Women from Perukavazhnthan, Thiruvarur, making arrangements for dinner on the roadside.
People from Therkuveli village preparing food for the community on 7th day after the cyclone hit.
A television, given as a freebie during the DMK government rule, and a mixer grinder, from AIADMK’s time, lay damaged in the wake of the cyclone near Thalainayar, Nagapattinam.

Despite all this time, the road to recovery is long in the Cauvery Delta region.

(The author is working as a Migration Correspondent with the International Migration Project, and has prior experience of working with prominent Tamil media concerns. All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

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