In this 13 October 2013 photo, family hit by Cyclone Phailin is seen near their damaged house, at Gopalpur in Odisha. Photo: K.R. Deepak / The Hindu

By Nita Bhalla in NEW DELHI and Manoj Chaurasia in PATNA
15 October 2013

BHUBANESWAR, India (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Thousands of people were left stranded by floods on Tuesday as the powerful cyclone which pounded the east coast over the weekend moved inland, bringing heavy rains and hindering rescue and relief operations, aid workers and officials said.

Cyclone Phailin, India's fiercest storm in 14 years, smashed into the coastline of Odisha on Saturday, inundating large swathes of farmland, ripping apart mud-and-thatch homes and disrupting power and telecoms services.

Even as Phailin weakened while moving across the country from the Bay of Bengal, its incessant rains caused major rivers and tributaries to overflow, submerging villages and stranding thousands of people, aid agency officials said.

"Along the coast, we experienced the cyclonic winds which have left millions of people in need of emergency aid. Now the rains are flooding other parts and we have to respond there," said Mangla Mohanty, head of the Indian Red Cross in Odisha.

"It's very challenging. Those affected by flooding are equally vulnerable and we have to stretch our resources and ensure all those that need help get it."

More than 250,000 people were stranded on Monday when rivers broke their embankments and swamped large tracts of land in districts such as Balasore, Mayurbhanj and Bhadrak.

Many areas were inaccessible by road, forcing emergency teams to use boats to rescue people and deliver relief supplies. Helicopters dropped dry food packets to marooned survivors, many of whom had taken refuge from six-feet-deep water on the rooftops of buildings.

"About 20,000 people still remained marooned here. More people are likely to be affected as the waters may flood more areas," said Balasore Revenue Divisional Commissioner Arabinda Kumar Padhee. "The situation remains grim."

Five people were killed by the floods in Odisha and seven in the neighbouring state of Bihar, which is on high alert after experiencing incessant rains. The total death toll from Phailin now stands at 33.

Authorities in Bihar said the constant rain of the past 36 hours had disrupted road and rail services and led to power blackouts in some parts of the state. [more]

Cyclone impact spreads, thousands stranded by floods

Fishermen and their family members repair the roof of their houses at the cyclone-hit Nalianuagaon village in Ganjam district in Odisha 15 October 2013. Photo: Adnan Abidi / REUTERS

By Naveen Patnaik
15 October 2013

CHATRAPUR, Ganjam (PTI) – Hit hardest by Cyclone 'Phailin', the coastal district of Ganjam is estimated to have suffered a loss of at least Rs 3,000 crore [30 billion] in the nature's fury which has deprived lakhs of people of their livelihood and damaged 2.4 [240,000] lakh houses.

Fishermen have suffered massive losses as their nets, boats and catamarans have been damaged. The farming community has also been hit with the standing paddy crop submerged in water.

Moved by the tragedy that has struck the hapless people here, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, after a visit to relief camps, has ordered payment of Rs 500 each to the affected even as the administration will begin distribution of ration free of cost for two months.

Official sources have pegged the loss in Ganjam at more than Rs 3,000 crore in this district alone. Power infrastructure has been damaged to a great extent.

"There has been extensive damage to the standing paddy crop as a huge area of land covering paddy fields has been submerged in rain water. There has been huge loss to horticulture farming also as an enormous number of mango and coconut trees have been uprooted," District Collector Krishan Kumar told .

He said Ganjam is the worst-affected district in Odisha in terms of loss of livelihood and property.

"More than 2.4 lakh houses have been damaged which includes fishermen huts and other 'kutcha' houses," Kumar said.

A special relief package for fishermen will also be announced by the government. Fishermen have suffered massive losses as their nets, boats and catamarans have been damaged, the Collector said.

He said nine people have lost lives due to cyclone in this district alone.
In order to start the relief work early, Kumar said the state government has decided to decentralize the procurement of essential food items like rice and pulses and edible oil.

"Till now, 800 quintals [80,000 kg] of flattened rice, 3,000 quintals [300,000 kg] of rice and 1,800 quintals [180,000 kg] of pulses have been dispatched to the affected coastal areas of Ganjam," Kumar said.

As many as 4,000 trucks of rice are being brought from different states.

The authorities also fear spread of diarrhoea and other epidemics in the marooned areas.

"We have mobilised 10 mobile health teams to the coastal areas which will disinfect the source of drinking water," Kumar said.

"Complete restoration of supply would take as much as a month. All roads are being opened up in the district," the collector said.

Sidhant Mohapatra, a BJD MP from Berhampur, said the administration faces a challenge to ensure a source of livelihood at the earliest for the affected people.

"The paddy crop has been destroyed completely and we now face a challenge to provide a source of livelihood for the farmers and villagers of the coastal belts in Odisha," said Mohapatra. [more]

Cyclone Phailin: Odisha's Ganjam district worst hit, 2.4 lakh houses damaged



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