What a week! This past Monday Hurricane Vardah (called a cyclone in this hemisphere) made landfall just north of Chennai near Pulicat (I like the name). It caused heavy rains and winds Monday until late in the evening. See my picture feed for some videos of what I experienced.
The cyclone caused much damage in Chennai, with tens of thousand of trees being blown down, power being disrupted in most of the city, cell towers being knocked over, and much damage to buildings and homes. Still much of Chennai is without power even 5 days later. The death toll in Tamil Nadu stands at 18.
I was scheduled to go up to the CLCI to teach in the seminary and have a pre-Christmas program with the seminary students and pastors. I had planned to drive up this past Wednesday (Dec. 14), but my driver suggested I fly instead, as the national highway we would take is along the coast was partially blocked due to downed trees and fallen toll plazas.
Flights had been cancelled Monday and Tuesday. I flew up Wednesday noon, but my flight was delayed over 2 hours because of built up traffic in Chennai (I assume). When I arrived on Wednesday evening, the Guntur area also was getting some rain (I guess I brought it with me).
With the death of Jayalalitha (who was the current Chief Minister) last week, the cyclone this week, and the previous Chief Minister going into the hospital two days ago, Chennai has been rather disrupted. Yesterday, because of the previous CM’s hospitalization, may busses did not run.
I am blessed to be staying in a complex that has diesel generators, so I had power most of these days, although there was an issue with the generator for my set of towers, perhaps caused by sub-grade diesel. I was without any power Tuesday until late evening. An attempt to share power from the other generators during the day caused a power surge that blew out my laptop charger and two multi-port phone chargers, but that is nothing compared to the hardship and damage experienced by many in the city whose thatched huts and make-shift homes were destroyed.
How our Brothers and Sisters here have been affected
More than 25 churches in the BELC have been badly damaged (in particular the sheet metal roofs), with some churches being completely destroyed. Many of the members have also had homes damaged or destroyed by the rains and winds. Pray for all those affected.