Natural Disasters

Odisha seaside villagers move to safe places as cyclone Amphan intensifies

Over 567 cyclone shelters and 7,092 buildings have been readied, claimed a state official

 
By Ashis Senapati
Last Updated: Monday 18 May 2020
Fishermen moored their boats at the beach in Puri fearing cylcone. Photo: Ashis Senapati

Hundreds of seaside villagers in Odisha started heading for safer places fearing devastation by cyclone Amphan, which is expected to turn into a very severe cyclone by May 20.

The state government has made arrangements to evacuate around 1.1 million people from vulnerable areas that include Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Ganjam, Gajapti, Puri, Bhadrak, Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Jajpur, Cuttack, Khorda and Nayagarh districts, according to Pradeep Kumar Jena, special relief commissioner, Odisha.

“We urged seaside villages to leave for safer places. The authorities are working with local sarapanches and other panchayat body members. At least 242 of 809 cyclone shelters in the 12 coastal districts are being used as temporary medical camps for returnees from different states. Over 567 cyclone and flood shelters, besides 7,092 buildings, have been readied to shelter people,” said Jena.

At least 20 teams of Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force; 17 teams of National Disaster Response Force; and 335 units of fire and disaster management have been deployed in coastal pockets of the state, added Jena.

With cyclone Amphan intensifying into a very severe cyclonic storm on May 20, the Odisha government has directed the departments concerned to ensure all adequate measures are taken while continuing the fight against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

Presiding over a high-level review meeting at the State Secretariat, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik directed officials to expedite evacuation of people living in coastal pockets. 

The state government also urged the Centre to temporarily suspend ‘Shramik Special’ trains passing through areas that may be affected by the storm.

Since the sea condition is predicted to be rough to very rough, the government has warned fishermen not to venture into the sea along and off the Odisha coast from May 18 onwards.

Seaside villages of Mahakalapada and Rajnagar blocks in Kendrapara district could face the worst of a tidal surge and heavy rains for which large number of people, living in the low-lying areas, have been evacuated to cyclone shelters, schools, colleges, among other safe places.

“We deployed power boats. We are also using loudspeakers to warn people of the impending danger. The authorities have stockpiled dry food, rice and kept medical teams and ambulances on standby. They have shifted many sick and pregnant women from villages to hospitals,” said Samarth Verma, collector, Kendrapara. 

“Around 10,000 people of the gram panchayats of Padampur, Gadaharisapur, Gadakujang , Ambiki, Dahibara, Japa and other panchayats  under Earasama block in Jagatsinghpur district perished in the super cyclone of October 29, 1999. We are taking all measures to prevent any such happening again,” said Sangram Keshari Mohapatra, collector, Jagatsinghpur.  

The government also issued a warning against visiting sea side to avoid any dangerous occurrence, said Kamal Lochan Mishra, executive director, State Disaster Mitigation Authority.

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