Date: October 14-16, 2013
On October 12th night cyclone ‘Phailin’ hit Orissa coast with intensity of about 200 kmph. The landfall was between Puri and Gopalpur and went through Chhatrapur of Ganjam District. The cyclonic weather made its way through part of Ganjam district and further went up Berhampur-Bhanjanagar-and continued up to Gajapati district.
On October 13 soon after the affect of Phailin died down in Cuttack city, the office bearers and members of the Diocese of Cuttack, CNI met at their registered office to discuss the possible action to be taken in the wake of cyclone Phailin.
It was unanimously decided that Diocese of Cuttack, CNI will extend all possible help to the victims of the vulnerable communities in the affected areas in collaboration with other NGOs and Government agencies. As its first step, two teams comprising of Mrs. Sunita Behera, Mrs. R. Pradhan, Mrs. Sucheta Pradhan and Mr. Rajesh Kumar Das will form one team and proceed to Bhanjanagar and second team comprising Mr. B. D. Das, Mr. Uday Puri, Rev. Sukant Das, Mr. P. K. Sahu, Rev. S. K. Nanda, Rev. Solomon Mohanty, Mr. Sunam Dalabehera, Mr. Amiya Roul and Mr. Udipta Fullonton will proceed Ganjam and Gajapati. A mix team comprising Mrs. Sunita Behera, Mr. UdayPuri, Mrs R. Pradhan,Mr. B.D.Das and Mr. Udipta Fullonton will visit Puri.
Oct 14- Pentacotta, Puri
Oct 15- Bhanjanagar, Ganjam
Oct 15- Gopalpur, Ganjam
Oct 16- Mohana, Gajapati
The primary objective of the visit:
- Conduct survey of the affected area,
- meet the victims of the community to assess the extent of damage,
- wherever possible take photographs of the affected area,
- meet the local authorities to seek their clearance for relief distribution and enroll for NGO coordination meetings,
The areas covered during the visit indicate partial damage to Kutcha (thatched) houses. Mud-wall collapse was visible in some houses. The asbestos sheet covered roofs were either cracked due to the pressure of wind or got hit from debris which inevitably made the roof coverings redundant. In some locations both tin and asbestos roof had been blown away. Retrieving and making use of part of the roof does not arise since the tin roofs sheets were folded beyond repair and asbestos sheets were shattered into pieces.
Livestock loss was reported in some areas. The loss of cattle was reported in one village due wall collapse.
Depending upon the location either the paddy or corn crop was seen. Although the paddy plants folded due to strong wind but we were told that it in itself does not pose any possibility of damage. However the corn plants lie flat on the ground cannot be saved since the corn seeds were not ripe enough and high moisture content in the seed will begin the decaying process, hence preserving the corn seed for year-end sale is ruled out.
General health condition of the affected population is stable. It was observed that civic amenities in urban and semi-urban areas have broken down. Lack of pipe water supply, electricity, garbage disposal, solid waste disposal system may precipitate water and vector born deceases. As of now the hospitals are open, manned and they are operational to great extent with their power generator. Medicine (pharmacy) shops appear well stocked and remained opened during the business hours.
The fishing communities’ decision to remain on land, stack their nets in safe places, and anchor their boats in dry lands enabled them to save these items and will allow them to begin their jobs as soon as the weather permits.
Small traders/service providers:
Have hardly lost their belongings/tools and many of them have resumed their occupation.
The major road connections are open and operational. Fallen trees did blocked many routes but cutting and removal of the fallen trees blocking the road by the authorities cleared the roads. Communication link is affected in certain parts of the affected area, especially where the towers have collapsed. However Government service provider-BSNL has swiftly restored the communication line. Other private operators are taking action for early restoration.
The power lines are most affected in the area. Either the tower/poles collapsed due to strong wind, some power lines snapped due to fallen trees thus disrupting the power supply. The damage is extensive and far reaching. Although enough action been taken but the complete restoration of power supply to major towns and cities still take at least a fortnight. Most areas in the affected areas suffer due to lack of power and the machines that depend upon power to be functional are lying idle.
Three churches and one parsonage roof was blown away and now remains unutilized. The church members constitute floating and long term members. The church membership is small and regular worshippers are from economically backward tribal communities. The only CNI church in the district follows the Anglican tradition. The building being 100 years old, therefore needs expert intervention to retain the structure and façade. Further the roof of the parsonage staircase has been blown of resulting pouring in of rain water inside the parsonage. Roughly Rs. 7,00,000 will be required to repair and renovate the church and parsonage.
The Christian Hospital-Berhampur for women and children is one of the oldest mission hospitals in the district of Ganjam which has been serving faithfully for more than 100years to the weaker section of the society. The hospital has a residential school of nursing and midwifery. During the cyclone the major part of establishment is damaged which is beyond repair and needs complete restructuring. The students are now being housed in the space meant for out patients causing great difficulty in providing service. Roughly Rs. 30,00,000 will be required to reconstruct the Hospital Nursing school and other wards.
Meeting with authorities:
Considering the degree of devastation in Ganjam District, the team consisting of Mr B.D.Das, Mr. Uday Puri and Mr. Udipta Fullonton met the Collector-cum-District Magistrate Dr. Krishan Kumar of Ganjam in his office. The Collector assured all possible help in relief operation and agreed to identify areas most needed for relief operation. The Collector also agreed to share the information on sector wise gap after the survey is conducted by the government officials.
The team felt that ready-to-eat foods are immediately needed to sustain the affected community. It is presumed that one week’s ration can sustain the family to tide over the crises.
Farmers those who have lost their crop will need additional support in terms of alternative cropping and support for seed for next year crop. In addition farmers can be retained to create community assets on cash-for-work basis during the lean period, which in a way will assure income and will contain the migration that normally follows after a failed crop. Opportunity arises also to provide farmers with seeds, tools and equipments which will help them farming and irrigation. The villages under Mohana and R.Udayagiri Block of the district of Gajapati have sustain major damage of their sole harvestable crops like corn (maize) and rice during the cyclone before they were ripe for harvesting. These farmers basically come from Soura and Kui tribes and economically backward class. They usually take loan to by seed and manure/fertilizer and repay it back after the harvest. This irreparable loss due to the cyclone Phailin needs to be supported to revive them back to their normal lives. Service of agriculture expert may be made available to enhance the skill and understanding of the farmers on high yield variety suitable to the local environmental conditions. It is envisaged that this event will be utilized for greater understanding of disaster risk reduction and decrease vulnerability.
Private or Trust run/managed educational institutions may need support to reconstruct their institutions unless these institutions are either insured (which is unlikely) or have corpus fund to meet this emergency.
Hospitals that are run by mission organisation require support to reconstruct their infrastructure to restore their full functionality. Normally the buildings are not insured and so also equipments. This will add additional burden on the institution’s limited resources and delay the restoration which in a way will affect the functionality of the hospital depriving the needy.
In the remote areas, periodic health camps can be organized to minimize the epidemic born out of contaminated water, water purification campaign, and nutrition supplement to infant, expectant/lactating mothers, old and infirm.
The above recommendations are based on the reconnaissance visit conducted from October 14-16, 2013.
Report prepared by - Diocese of Cuttack, Church of North India