Cyclone Fani: ‘How will I keep my wife and small kids safe’
“Above all, the major concern is we do not have any shelter over our head. I am in tension where and how will I keep my wife with small kids safe. The government shelter homes are overcrowded and there is no enough space to accommodate.”, expresses Mr. K. Nala, a differently-abled person who lives with his wife and two small children. One of his children suffers from intellectual disability, which is one of the major concern for the family.
The family is very poor, and do not have any sustainable source of income except the PWD pension given by the government and meager amount earned by his wife by doing some household chores in the nearby village. The income is not enough to meet the basic family needs let alone the treatment of their child.
Like Nala many were displaced when the eastern coast of our country was affected by Fani cyclone. It was considered as one of the strongest cyclones to strike Odisha since Phalin in 2013. On 3rd May the extremely severe cyclone storm Fani hit the coast of Odisha at Puri around 8:00 am, the eye of the storm crossed Bhubaneshwar four hours later at around 12:00 pm. Bhubaneshwar witnessed the severest form of the cyclone for around three and a half hours. The eye of the cyclone, then proceeded towards Jagatsinghpur district affecting 1,48,28,084 people in 14 districts namely Angul, Balasore, Bhadrak, Cuttack, Dhenkanal, Ganjam, Jagatsinghpur, Jaipur, Kendrapara, Keonkhar, Khordha, Mayurbhanj, Nayagarh, and Puri. Although the government was very proactive in evacuating about 14,18,082 people from the coastal villages and accommodating them in 6564 cyclone shelters, the damage caused by the unprecedented wind velocity of up to 240 kmph followed by brief rains was huge. According to the government damage report Bhabanesgwar, Cuttak, Jagatsinghpur, Khurda and Puri were the worst affected districts. Where 64 human causalities, 17,37,473 livestock causalities, 508467 houses damaged 5244 schools, 1031 PHC damages reported in 155 blocks.
Caritas India was one of the first organisations to reach on ground to conduct an assessment. A 5-member team was deployed, thereafter 11 members team set out for a rapid needs assessment from 5-8th May covering 14 villages in 3 worst affected districts: Puri, Khurda and Jagatsinghpur for immediate response. The assessment revealed that the impact of the cyclone was like that of the Super Cyclone of 1999.
4000 Shelter and WASH kits were pre-positioned and distributed at the earliest. The on-ground staff was also coordinating with Interagency groups Odisha, West Bengal and national organisation and sharing continuous information for efficient relief activities. Caritas India’s intervention response has been planned in two phases i.e. Immediate Response followed by Recovery of the households. The intervention has set a goal to reach for 10,000 households.
The spirit of volunteering has always been promoted through every intervention of Caritas India. Fani also saw young and old coming together as volunteers to render their services in active evacuation; early warning and commuting casualties to nearby hospitals. Volunteers were also engaged for distribution of kits and awareness on WASH. Prior to distribution orientation was held by Caritas India for the volunteers on distribution process and Complaint Handling Mechanism; a total of 28 volunteers from three districts participated for the program.
Adequate resources plan an important role during such interventions. Caritas India engaged various stakeholders at different platforms to raise fund support. Along with institutional donors, corporates like Siemens joined hands in raising funds for recovering the people of Odisha. Local resources are also being raised through crowd funding platform by running an online campaign “Rebuild Odisha: What defines us is how well we rise after falling”. The distributions by Caritas India is underway and is proposed to continue till beginning of next month.