Odisha braces for cyclone Phailin

People in vulnerable villages in coastal districts are being evacuated to safe areas, cyclone shelters

By Ashis Senapati
Published: Friday 11 October 2013

The incoming cyclone Phailin has Odisha authorities worried about the impact it will have on coastal Odisha.

"Cyclone Phailin could be life threatening for the Kendrapada, Jagatsinghpur, Ganjam , Puri and Balesore districts. Keeping this in view, the state government has urged seaside villagers to leave for safer places. The authorities are also working with local sarpanchs and other panchayat body members to help people prepare for the cyclone. The government has identified villages that are the most vulnerable and are being moved as part their evacuation plan," said Jugul Kishor Mohapatra, chief secretary of Odisha.

The cyclone is expected to hit Paradip port on Friday night. It is feared that the cyclone would be so severe that it could imperil the lives of thousands of people in the coastal districts.

“The coastal areas of Kendrapada and Jagatsinghpur are regularly hit by major cyclones and so everyone is taking this threat extremely seriously and making sure the right measures are in place to mitigate the impact and place everyone on alert. Large numbers of seaside villagers are being moved from their villages to safe buildings or cyclone shelters,” said S K Mallick, district collector of Jagatsinghpur.

The government has also issued a warning to people against visiting the seaside to avoid any dangerous occurrence. The authorities are prepared for any emergency situation and deployed heavy machinery to deal with any situation, added Mallick.

The officials at Paradip Port Trust (PPT) have raised the cyclone signal level to four. Regular coordination meetings are being held at all levels of government and humanitarian agencies; they have started preparedness activities, including pre-positioning emergency supplies, added Mallick.

Thousands of marine fishers have tied up their vessels in the fishing harbours and jetties. Many NGOs and other agencies are working with the government to prepare their disaster response procedures ahead of a cyclone, said Mallick.

Kendrapada’s culture of preparedness began after the devastating 1971 cyclone that claimed an estimated 10,000 lives in the seaside villages of Rajnagar and Mahakalapada blocks of the district. In 1999, when another super cyclone struck, people helped evacuate thousands of people from the disaster area, saving countless lives. The death toll from that tragedy was only 486. On the other hand, more than 10,000 people perished in the 1999 super cyclone in Earasama and Kujang blocks in Jagatsinghpur district.

“We are very concerned about the seaside village residents, particularly those in low-lying areas, and we are working urgently with the villagers. But we are running against time and lives are at risk,” said Balaram Parida, former chairperson of Mahakalapada block in Kendrapada district.


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