Celebrity makeup artist and owner of the Pune Chennai Dog Training Academy, Saba Poonawala, shares her first hand account of the devastation caused by Cyclone Michaung in Chennai.
In the face of an impending cyclone, we thought we were prepared with basic safety measures. Little did we anticipate the wind speeds reaching close to 100 kmph, resulting in the flooding of our rooms, even on the supposedly safe second floor of my villa. It became evident that the situation was taking a turn for the worse.
With a pregnant sister-in-law and elderly in-laws with health issues, my immediate concern was their evacuation. Although relatively new to Chennai, my trust in a solid network of friends proved invaluable. Witnessing water levels rise, I urgently reached out to my friends, who, without hesitation, mobilized resources, including a JCB and boats, for a swift rescue operation. One friend even personally arrived in her car to assist. I am thankful to my friend Divya Kumar for her help.
On the second day of the cyclone, the boats and JCB arrived promptly. Ensuring the safety of my family members, I got my sister-in-law and in-laws on the first boat. Once they were safely transported, the rest of the family followed suit. My husband stayed back to bring our beloved dog by our side.
This marks my second encounter with a devastating flood, the first being the Kashmir flood of 2015. Despite my experience as a wildlife camper in various jungles, the distress of being stranded in a flood and cyclone remains an unwelcome repetition. As we rowed away to safety, the unsettling stench of the water hinted at the grim reality of the situation.
Recalling a night filled with the haunting howls of dogs, my heart still aches from the memories. Unable to return home for a long time, my husband and I planned to reunite with the others affected by this calamity.
Despite the challenges, she remains optimistic, looking forward to a more positive 2024 filled with love and uplifting experiences.