Eastern coast prepares disaster response; evacuations begin and relief materials stockpiled
Odisha is preparing for what could be the first cyclone of 2023, Cyclone Mocha, which is expected to form over the Bay of Bengal this month. The state government has identified vulnerable areas and disaster response teams are on high alert. Relief materials have been stockpiled in various districts as well.
A cyclonic circulation is likely to develop over the southeast Bay of Bengal around May 6, 2023, Director General of India Meteorological Department (IMD) Mrutyunjay Mohapatra said in a press statement May 4, 2023.
“A low-pressure area is likely to form over the same region around May 7 under its influence, which may concentrate into a depression over the southeast Bay of Bengal on May 8,” he said.
The low-pressure area may intensify into a cyclonic storm while moving nearly northwards towards the central Bay of Bengal, he added.
The cyclonic storm predicted by forecast website Windy.com
“The details of its path and intensification will be provided after the formation of the low-pressure area. The system is under constant watch and being monitored regularly,” Mohapatra said.
In a recent meeting, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik also reviewed the state’s preparedness and directed officials to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of the people, reported daily The Hindu. The government has already started evacuations in susceptible areas to prevent loss of life.
The authorities have been directed to stay alert and ready for any unexpected situations, given the challenge of accurately predicting the course of cyclones. In addition to establishing 24/7 control centres, 17 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams and 20 Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) teams have been put on standby.
The potential impact of Cyclone Mocha on the eastern coast of India is significant and people are being advised to stay indoors and take necessary precautions. The state government has also asked people living in low-lying areas, near the coast, and in thatched and mud houses to move to safer places, news website NDTV reported.
While Odisha is taking extensive measures to prepare for Cyclone Mocha, neighbouring states are also on high alert. Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu have all issued advisories to their respective district authorities and deployed disaster response teams to prepare for the cyclone’s potential impact.
The IMD has advised fishermen not to venture into the sea in the Bay of Bengal and has asked coastal states to remain vigilant. Those who are already out have been asked to return by May 7. Overall, the entire eastern coast of India is bracing itself for Mocha’s impact.
The southeast Bay of Bengal and adjoining areas may see squally weather with wind speed reaching 40-50 kilometres per hour, gusting to 60 kmph on May 7, IMD warned.
The wind speed may further increase to 50-60 kmph gusting to 70 kmph over the southeast Bay of Bengal and adjoining areas. Sea condition is likely to be rough over these areas.
Odisha is particularly vulnerable to cyclones. The 1999 super cyclone that hit Odisha was one of the deadliest natural disasters in Indian history.
The cyclone made landfall with wind speeds of up to 260 kmph, causing massive destruction and claiming over 10,000 lives. The infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and communication networks, was completely destroyed, making rescue and relief operations challenging.
The impact of the supercyclone was devastating, with thousands of people losing their homes, livelihoods, and loved ones. The disaster was a wake-up call for the Odisha government and prompted them to take significant steps towards improving its disaster preparedness and management strategies.
In the following years, the state government launched several initiatives, including the construction of cyclone shelters, early warning systems and the development of evacuation plans.
The proactive measures helped in evacuating vulnerable areas and stocking relief materials during Cyclone Phailin in 2013 and Cyclone Fani in 2019.
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