On December 26, 2004, a severe earthquake on the Indonesian coast in the Indian Ocean precipitated a series of massive waves known as tsunamis that devastated South Asia. The entire coastline of Tamilnadu was hit, particularly fishing villages which lost their homes, fishing boats, nets, household and personal items. Every village had several deaths, most of whom were children.
The C. P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation along with the various institutions set up by it including CPREEC helped rehabilitate 22 villages from the Foundation's own funds and donations given by several trusts and individuals. Relief materials including food, water, medicines and clothes were distributed.
Nobel Salai at Wooster Nagar
In Pudupattinam village, Kanchipuram District, the families of Angalaamman Kovil Street were badly affected. As a result, 26 families decided to move elsewhere. First it was the pace of relief they received; next it was the question of shelter. The villagers came together to secure a separate plot of land removed from their present location and 500 meters beyond the High tide line as required by the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ). When CPRAF contacted the then special tsunami Commissioner and Collector of Kanchipuram to suggest a village which was in compliance with the CRZ, this small community of 26 families was suggested. There after CPRAF contacted Wooster community, Ohio, through Mr.Bala Venkataraman and Ms.Bina Venkataraman of Wooster was appointed as the co-coordinator of the project. A sum of about 40 lakhs was sent to CPRAF by Wayne County Community Foundation, Wooster. CPRAF decided to entrust the work to CPREEC. In order to form an environmentally sustainable village, the following works were taken up:
- Construction of 26 houses with attached toilet and bath
- Individual rainwater harvesting units for each house
- Individual septic tank for each house
- Community vermi-composting pit
- Community grey water recycling unit
- Community centre with a library and children's park.
The keys to the houses were handed over to the families by US Consul General David T Hopper on January 03, 2007.
Tsunami Park at Anumanthaikuppam village
As a part of the effort to help the rehabilitation of tsunami affected areas, CPREEC also built a playground for children at Anumanthaikuppam village, Villupuram district. The area includes an amphitheatre. The park was inaugurated on December 26, 2006 – the second anniversary of the tsunami – by Ms. M.Bargavi Devendra, Hon. Secretary, Indian Red Cross Society, Tamilnadu.