Rebuild Odisha: What defines us is how well we rise after falling

Rupsa (name changed),15, currently studying in class 10. She lives in a seven-member family which includes grandmother, parents, and siblings. Out of the four siblings, she is the second one.

She was happily studying and spending time with friends at school, but the cyclone (Fani) completely changed her life which she had never imagined. She further added that the cyclone ransacked everything in the family, currently the family doesn’t have a shelter even to protect themselves. The cyclone has blown away their houses and is left with nothing behind, except the debris and few broken/damaged households’ items. Her books and other school stationeries has also been damaged due to the disaster.

“She innocently trying to dry her school books and other stuffs under the sun”.

Currently, food is the highest priority their food material is spoiled, as without food won’t be able to survive for a longer period, she also revealed that no government support has yet come to the village in any form.

With much hesitation she adds that “I am also not keeping well, I am suffering from continuous pain during my mensuration cycle, often I end up using unclean cloth (preferably cotton) for keeping myself safe during the mensuration” Like Rupsa many girls are suffering the problem of mensuration hygiene with a silent wish and prayer in their hearts that soon everything will be normal again.

Cyclone Fani, is one of the strongest storms for the Indian subcontinent in decades, impacting Odisha, Andhra Pradesh (AP) and West Bengal (WB). The tropical cyclone made its landfall by crossing Odisha coast on 3rd May at 08:10 am with wind gusting over 200 kph. Caritas India was one of the first organisations to deploy a 5-member team to assess the on-ground situation to make a planned intervention. Some of the key findings from assessment conducted confirms that in Odisha Fani has caused mass destruction through heavy rains, storm surges and high winds which uprooted trees and snapped electricity lines. This has left districts like Puri with no mode of connectivity. 1.2 million people have been evacuated to 6564 shelter camps and continue to stay there. 1000 villages and 51 Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) are affected. Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Khorda, and Cuttack are the most affected areas. The government data reports a loss of 41 lives.

Srikakulam district in Andhra Pradesh, which is adjoining Odisha is affected; a total of 14 villages are affected in 9 mandals. The health department established 312 medical camps and 3500 people remain in relief camps today. At the time of the cyclone, about 22,000 people were evacuated to shelters and most of them have returned home. About 162 houses are damaged. Nearly 1000 hectares of crops (mainly banana, cashew, and coconut) have been damaged. In most parts of the districts (Vizag, Vizianagaram, and Srikakulam), electric poles have fallen of which around 50% have been restored. In West Bengal the cyclone hit with wind speeds of 60-70 kmph being witnessed and rains with squally winds in all eight highly cyclone-prone coastal districts. No major casualties have been reported

Household and livestock damages has been reported in huge numbers from Odisha. Cyclone Fani has devastated thatched and semi-thatched houses and threatened livelihoods belonging to Tribal, Dalits and fisherfolk community residing near the sea, also in urban slums of Puri and Bhubaneswar. According to the on-ground updates by Caritas India approximately 9,000-10,000 families have been displaced in the slums of Puri town. Children and the elderly are severely affected. In some relief shelters, children need food and drinking water. As the water system has also been impacted by the cyclone availability of clean drinking water is a major concern. People in the assessed relief camps have expressed the need for food, shelter, temporary shelter material, safe drinking water, and livelihood support.

Caritas India along with partners made minimal food items available. Caritas India has prepositioned shelter and WASH kits for 4000 households which were distributed on 9th May. The on-ground staff is also coordinating with Interagency groups Odisha, West Bengal, and national organisation and sharing continuous information for efficient relief activities. As the number of people in each shelter homes is increasing, sanitation and hygiene are becoming a problem as there is a shortage of toilets and drinking water. Caritas India has planned its immediate response and recovery for 10,000 households with food, drinking water, and shelter.