Cyclone Michaung and other Flood Relief work – Jan 2024

In Dec 2023, Chennai and vicinity was battered by Cyclone Michaung that affected several villages that we work with. Later in December heavy rains inundated several areas of Thoothukudi and Thirunelveli. Asha Chennai undertook flood/rain relief work at these places and completed it in Jan 2024.


In December 2023, a low pressure in the Bay of Bengal turned into a severe cyclonic storm which was named Michaung. The storm peaked with sustained winds of 110 km/h causing heavy rainfall in Tamil Nadu which effected our Sangaman project in Thiruvallur as well. India’s meteorological department had issued a red alert. The storm coupled with heavy rain and strong winds caused widespread flooding and inundation. The Chennai airport was inoperable, schools and colleges were closed, train services were hampered. Flooding led to power outages and damage to public and private properties. There was shortage of essential commodities like milk. After the cyclone passed, there was water logging in most of the places which took days or weeks in some cases to subside.

On December 17 and 18, the situation repeated itself in southern districts of Tamil Nadu, namely Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli, Tenkasi and Kanniyakumari. Our project Pearl in Thoothukudi was affected as a result of the intense rain and flooding.

We were made aware that many of our scholarship students (mostly in Chennai) also suffered on account of these floods. For those living in the ground floor, water had entered their houses. Several government agencies and NGOs were working on the ground to help people in this dire situation. Asha also decided to make a contribution to the relief work in Thiruvallur and Thoothukudi since our projects operated in these districts.

You may view the full photo album here.


The Impact

The Irular hamlets in Thriuvallur where we work are the poorest areas. These hamlets are typically located in low lying areas adjacent to a lake or river. Further their houses are typically either mud huts or government group houses which are also poorly constructed. Even during normal rains, the places are inundated. This year the rains were quite heavy in these places. We decided to take up the relief work in the hamlets or Old Thirupatchur and Annanagar and help about 200 families living there.Here are a couple of photos from Old Thirupatchur and Annanagar –

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Two of the huts in Old Thirupatchur completely collapsed. Both these families have children who are studying in PUPS Old Thirupatchur. We have known these children for years. They are currently just living in tents put up with tarpaulin mats and nylon mats. It costs them Rs 15,000 to put up a hut. We propose to give these two families Rs 10000 each towards this cost.

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Distribution Drive

On 4 Jan, 2024, Thursday, Asha distributed provisions and mats. We made a kit containing-

  1. Rice – 10 kgs
  2. Wheat – 1 kg
  3. Rava – 1 kg
  4. Vermicelli (Semiya) – 1 kg
  5. Refined Oil – 1 ltr
  6. Bedsheet – 1 no.
  7. Mat – 1 no.

This kit was distributed to 50 families in Old Thirupachur Erular Colony and 150 families in Anna Nagar Erular Colony.

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While there was severe flooding in a lot of places in Thoothukudi and Thirunelveli, the villages that we support much were not badly affected. In Athikulam, a village near the areas we support, two of the streets were totally submerged and the people there had severe problems because of flooding. There had been Government efforts in these places, where people were provided provisions and money. However, we noticed that the children had lost their books, notebooks, or bags. We decided to make an educational kit for these children and distribute them as a part of our relief work.

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The flood affected around 1000 families in Athikulam and Ramalingapuram villages in Kayathar district. We made educational kits for children in classes 1-5, 6-8, 9-10 and 11 & 12.

The kits contained 2 line, 4 line books, square notebooks for math, exam pads, pencils, eraser, sharpener, wooden scale, and crayons for Grade 1-5.

For class 6-8, the kit contained geometry box, long sized ruled and un-ruled notebooks, dictionary, wooden scale, exam pad, refill pens (blue).

The kit for class 9-10 contained, long size un-ruled books, geometry box, wooden scale, graph notebook, ink pen, black refill pens, and exam pad.

The kit for Class 11 &12 contained long size un-ruled book, ink pen, black refill pen, and exam pad. In addition, a metal water bottle, pouch and bag was given to all the students.

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The relief material distribution was organized on 17 Jan, 2024. Our team had invited the Collector, but he was not able to make it due to other commitments. However, the Panchayat head, Councilor, VEO and Thasildar attended. Our co-ordinator Mr. Murugan and 4 Asha teachers participated in this relief work. We donated materials worth INR 3,00,000 in Thoothukudi.

Scholarship Students

As the situation/need for each scholarship student was different, we decided to provide them each with INR 1,500 to meet expenses that were critical to them. 28 scholarships students from Chennai were covered under this drive. Since water had entered their homes, electrical equipment like fridge, washing machines, grinder etc were damaged. Around 12 students used the money to help with the repair cost of these equipment. Nine students used the money provided to buy books since their books had been damaged from the rain. Five other students used it to buy provisions since water logging damaged the provisions like rice, dal, wheat etc stored in their houses. One student lost all his uniforms, and had to buy new ones. One of the student, Gowtham is studying medicine. His stethoscope was damaged and he used the money provided to buy a new one.

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