Thursday, December 15, 2016
If you happened to drive across Chennai yesterday, you would have been surprised at the density of greenery lining the roads. No matter what part of the city you were in, the green roadsides would have been the default sight. It is not as if the city grew green thumbs overnight; all of the green would have been the effect of Cyclone Vardah, the most severe storm to hit Chennai in a generation. That's what they say, but I will go further to say that C. Vardah is the most severe of the past 50 years at least.
The official statistics of the numbers of fallen trees is in 3 digits, but most certainly many more than that have fallen. One estimate says 12,000 trees. There are all kinds of debates about which trees were able to weather the storm better than the others. In general, it seems that the "local" species stood up to the winds, shedding a lot of their leaves, and some branches, while the "exotic" species were more easily brought down in their entirety.
The jury is still out on that; but being a domestic species was obviously no guarantee that Vardah would be gentle on you. This peepul (Ficus religiosa) tree - I'm told it was over 70 years old - just toppled over, bringing down with it an industrial shed, an electricity post and the power cables running along it. The whole locality has been without power for the past two days. Maybe one of the other trees in the background - the neem (Azadirachta indica) or the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera) - would not have caused this extent of damages!