Kiwi caught up in India's deadly flooding

Kiwi caught up in India's deadly flooding

A break in the rain and receding water levels are now providing relief to the thousands of flood-stricken residents in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

The state's capital, Chennai, has suffered its heaviest rainfall in more than a century, resulting in around 260 deaths.

3 News talked to a New Zealander who was stranded there and only just managed to get out.

Chennai has drowned in torrential rain for more than 17 days. It has left thousands homeless and claimed hundreds of lives.

It's a city of 5 million people, but it didn't take long for New Zealand woman Linda Chomeley-Smith to feel acutely alone.

"All the communications went down and of course social media was how I was communicating with New Zealand, and once that went down I started having a feeling of great isolation," she says.

The tourist from Hawke's Bay took footage as she arrived in the city, formerly known as Madras. Roads there are now rivers, and the real river burst its banks.

That led to tragedy, as a nearby hospital's generators were submerged and life support was cut off to up to 18 patients.

After nearly a week, Ms Chomeley-Smith managed to secure a spot in a taxi.

"There were no vehicles big enough to get through the water, and I had seen some of the Jetstar pilots who had become stranded and they allowed me to go with them."

But there was no way they could use the Chennai Airport, so they headed to Bangalore – normally a five-hour drive; this time it took the taxi 12 hours.

"We were in water for probably the best part of two hours to the outskirts of Chennai. There was still water everywhere. It was just mind-boggling."

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised $150 million of relief aid. But the Government's being criticised for its slow response, and many call the flooding a manmade disaster because the city was allowed to explode in size without the roading and sewerage systems to cope.

Ms Chomeley-smith is just relieved to be out.

"Yesterday morning when I woke up I'd never been so grateful to see the sun."

She's expecting to be back on home turf by tomorrow morning.

3 News