Monday, 21 October 2013

A village of just 2,400 people, Arjiapali was among the first places to be hit by Phailin

Berhampur:18.10.13:Odisha could take a year to recover from the devastation of Cyclone Phailin, according to Catholic Relief Services, more then 10 million people affected, many of them homeless.

John Shumlansky, India representative of CRS, said the organization was still assessing the fallout from the huge tropical storm which battered India’s eastern coast on Saturday, killing 26 people.

“The destruction and the impact are massive,” he said in Odisha’s heavily damaged state capital, Bhubaneswar. “Nothing could escape nature’s fury.”

The toll could have been much worse were it not for mass evacuations, prompting the UN to call India’s preparations for the giant storm a “landmark success story in disaster management”.

CRS is among numerous relief agencies, including the government, delivering aid to the worst hit coastal towns of Ganjam, Balasore and Puri.

In Ganjam, home to more than 3.5 million people, nearly a quarter of a million houses were destroyed and crops have been wiped out with total damage estimated at 30 billion rupees  in the town alone.

“It will take more than a year to bring the people’s lives back on track,” said Shumlansky.

In Balasore, the district worst affected by flooding, an estimated 900,000 people have been displaced as vast areas remain under water.

“We need to think about Balasore as water is standing there and creating problems as compared to other places where the cyclone has come and gone and people have started bringing their lives [back] to normal,” said Shumlansky.

People are going back to their damaged or destroyed houses without any belongings, he said, and many have seen their means of earning a living destroyed.

In the small town of Arjiapali, 7km down the coast from Chatrapur, some 12,000 fishermen of the district have urged the government to replace or repair their damage, destroyed and lost boats so they can feed their families again.

“We do not want any relief from the government. We want help to restore our fishing livelihoods,” said B. Simadari, head of the district’s fishing community.

Like other affected communities, people in Arjiapali have received 500 rupees and 50 kg rice in immediate aid from the government.

A village of just 2,400 people, Arjiapali was among the first places to be hit by Phailin when it reached the bay of Bengal coast at around 8.15pm on Saturday.

“It is quite visible from the destruction around that our village bore the maximum brunt but we don’t want to be dependent on the government. That would make us useless,” Simadari said.

With the financial toll from Phailin expected to 200,000 rupees to the families of each of the 25 victims, it remains to be seen whether authorities will commit the money required to replace the hundreds of fishing vessels lost.” That is a lot of money. Which we cannot afford this much,” Simadari added.

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