It has been 14 years since India has experienced its strongest cyclone. Cylcone Phalin, of which was compared to a category 4 hurricane, attacked the east coast leaving its mark with only 7 casualties dead.
A ‘zero-casualty approach’ was taken as Cyclone Phalin brought about 8 inches of rainfall flooding low-lying lands and villages. The cyclone generated strong wind speeds of around 140mph which resulted in large waves slamming the coasts. Many houses were run down by floods as several were made out of mud and bamboo. Odisha’s capital, Bhubaneswar was badly hit by floods, however according to Kamal Mishra, state disaster management official, Ganjam was the area worst affected by Cyclone Phalin.
India has had a strong history of several cyclones emerging upon its land, with several causing extensive damage with a large number of fatalities. In 1999 a Cyclone 05B killed over 10,000 people and so authorities made it their mission to see that history would not be repeated with the super cyclone with Mishra saying, “we have taken a zero-casualty approach…If people do not move, force will be used to evacuate them.” His and the army’s initiative made a positive response as over 900,000 people were evacuated in Odisha alone with many being housed in shelters, strongly built schools, hospitals and temples. Power and transport had been cut off for the safety precautions.
Aid was in effect by the International Humanitarian Organization World Vision. They offered help to local communities with preparedness programs which involved training the locals on how to act and react, search and rescue, first aid and how to protect livestock.
Many believe that India tackled the grave situation with a positive manner, quickly and extremely well. History and awareness plays a strong part in how precautions were taken resulting to a low number of fatalities as millions were faced with the deadly hazard. Forecasters warn that as the Cyclone moves northwards it could cause furthermore severe and environmental damage due to the Himalayas, but India’s authorities are prepared to tackle the threat with hopes to continue their ‘zero-casualty approach’.
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