We’re standing in a bedroom, knee-deep in floodwater.
We are surrounded by aluminum cooking pots, wet clothes piled high and a red teddy bear floating by.
It’s filthy, sodden, miserable.
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Kartik lives here with six family members. He had to evacuate Sunday due to torrential rains.
Everything is gone.
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Kartik points at his chest and says “Pain,” “I feel pain,” he said.
Heavy rains are not uncommon in this region of India, especially during the late monsoon seasons.
However, this rain is made more difficult by two factors. These are typical of the problems that many cities in development face.
Rapid urbanization means that drains are gone and ground that would naturally absorb the rain have disappeared.
Streets flood more easily and remain flooded because the water is difficult to drain.
Extreme weather is another category. For example, the unpredicted, intense and unusual rains that fell on Chennai on Sunday.
We know that the former will increase in frequency as a result of our warming planet.
We know that cities can be changed.
They are adaptable and can become stronger.
They could use some of the resilience that comes with every new storm of rain, which can bring a wave of genuine despair.
At the weekend, more than 20cm of fallen was seen in Chennai.
Water has not yet drained from low-lying areas of the city.
We meet Somu, a man from a village where many people have been evacuated.
His small house was submerged on Sunday. Since then, his family has been staying in a government school.
There is no power at their home, but Somu goes back during daytime to make sure that possessions aren’t damaged by water.
He says, “People cannot stay here.”
It’s very difficult. It’s been three consecutive days like this. This is the fourth day.
“People are really struggling here.”
His neighbors all came together and bought a large pump to get rid of some of the stagnant water.
They know that this water isn’t going anywhere and are preparing to receive more.
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