Andhra Pradesh braces for Helen

Cyclone expected to hit close to Ongole on November 22 in the afternoon
Andhra Pradesh braces for Helen

Andhra Pradesh is getting ready to face another severe cyclone, named Helen. The cyclone was originally expected to strike the state close to Kavali in the southern coastal district of Nellore.  "But the forecast by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) late on Thursday morning says the cyclone is slowly moving northwards and is likely to make landfall close to Ongole in Prakasam district, about 60 km north of Kavali, on Friday afternoon" said C Parthasarathy, commissioner of the state disaster management department.

The state authorities seem fully confident about their preparedness. One special officer of IAS cadre has been appointed for each of the four southern coastal districts which are expected to be hit—Nellore, Prakasam, Guntur and Krishna—for supervising the disaster management measures. Four teams from the National Disaster Response Force have been deployed for relief work. Two teams for Prakasam and Nellore and one each for Guntur and Krishna. "The district collectors have been asked to draw enough money from the treasury to meet the relief work," said Parthasarathy. The Coastal Security Force and the Marine Police Force are on alert. The fisheries department is employing an sms system for alerting fishers.

As for evacuation, 52 habitations in Nellore district and 11 blocks in Prakasam district have been identified. “At this moment we cannot say how many people will be evacuated. We will get a clear picture only after some time,” said Parthasarathy. Evacuation was started Thursday morning.
According to the weather forecast, the speed of the wind could be 70-90 km/hr.  A storm surge of about 1- 2.5m is expected at the time of landfall, which will inundate low lying areas. Heavy to very heavy rainfall is likely to occur in East Godavari, West Godavari, Krishna, Guntur, Prakasam and Nellore districts. 

According to IMD, the cause of cyclone Helen is the  deep depression that formed over the west-central Bay of Bengal on Novemebr18. The depression has intensified into a severe cyclonic storm. Moving in west-northwest direction for some time and then and then west-southwestwards, it would cross south Andhra Pradesh between Machillipatnam and Nellore and adjoining north Tamil Nadu coast.

Last month. Andhra’s north-eastern district of Srikakulam had fallen prey to the fury of  Phailin. The severe cyclone which landed near Gopalpur in Odisha close to Srikakulam on October 12 had prompted the country’s biggest evacuation endeavour in 23 years. More than 900,000 people moved to safer places from the coastline in both Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. The cyclone had brought in torrential rains and winds with speed more than 200 kmph. It was expected to be a super cyclone that would cause immense damage but both the states had succeeded in protecting human lives. There was huge crop damage in both the states but loss of human lives in cyclone-related incidents was minimal. In Odisha, 22 people died, while in Andhra Pradesh about 10 people lost their lives. Accurate forecasting had helped both the states to be prepare for the disaster. This time, too, the state is targeting for zero casualty. 


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