Strong winds of up to 140 km / h swept the coast of Chennai on 12 December. The government of Tamil Nadu has reported that there are currently over 7,350 evacuees in 54 relief centres in the poorer districts of Chennai, Kanchipuram, Tiruvallur and Villupuram.
The extent of the damage to the Salesian works in the area is significant.
Pope John XXIII House for people living with HIV and Hansen's disease has been hard hit. Over 250 mango trees and coconut palms – a source of income for the centre – were uprooted, four houses for patients were destroyed, as well as the water tank and electricity generator.
In the Don Bosco house for girls in Chennai the 45-campus residents are fine, but the roof on the second floor of the boarding school was lifted by the wind and the water tower was demolished. There is no water and no electricity.
Anbu Illam, the centre for young people at risk, and Annat Farm, the centre in Chennai for young people in conflict with the law, are without light and water. All the trees have been destroyed but the young people are unharmed.
The transformers in most of the Salesian houses are unusable, so even if the government manages to reconnect the supply line, it will still not be possible for the Salesian institutions to restore energy immediately.
In the city suburbs, which were among the areas hardest hit by the cyclone, members of the Salesian Family, with students, teachers and families of those who attend the Salesian works, are distributing food, clean water and basic necessities.
For the Salesian community the plan to return to normality as soon as possible includes:
• Clearing away the fallen trees and walls.
• Repairing collapsed buildings.
• Refitting the transformers and the electrical cables to restore the energy supply.
• Providing health care and sanitation to those in need who attend the Salesian centres.
• Providing drinking water tanks.