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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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Over the years Haiti has experienced the battering of tropical hurricanes and earthquakes undergoing severe-felt damage. CNN’s Philippe Cousteau and his team aim to uncover the environmental challenges many nations are battling. They stop in Haiti to see how locals are not only repairing the damages of severe hurricanes and earthquakes, but they are left inspired as locals show them how they are also trying to improve their way of living through being sustainable.
Haiti lies right on the hurricane belt in the Atlantic Ocean. This is where tropical depressions [mainly] develop off the eastern coast of Africa in to tropical storms and eventually hurricanes as it moves across water in a westwards/north west direction on the hurricane belt. In its way lies Haiti.
Not only enduring the inevitable destruction of hurricanes, they also experience earthquakes due to blind thrust faults. In January 2010 a 7.3 magnitude earthquake killed 2% [200,000-250,000 people] of Haiti’s population out of 10 million. It was near the epicenter of its capital, Port-au-Prince.
Despite all their suffering Haitians are keeping their hopes alive by taking action.
CLICK HERE to know more about Philippe Cousteau’s trip to Haiti.
Here is a behind the scene with Philippe Cousteau and his team in Haiti
Inside Haiti’s Poorest Slums
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PHILIPPE COUSTEAU AND HIS WORK
HAITI AND ITS DISASTERS
Northern India has experienced a dramatic state of flooding due to record rains in the month of June and July. This resulted to devastating landslides where the state of Uttarakhand became badly inundated as 6,000 people were misplaced and 1 fatality occurred in the Morigaon district. Although many may claim this disaster to be caused by mother nature’s terrible charms, some environmentalists say the great after effects of the flooding is strongly due to anthropogenic reasons.
100,000 people have been rescued by the air force and security force personnel, however there is no official death toll leaving the missing ‘presumed dead’. The Ganges River and the Brahmaputra River as well as its tributaries, Dhansiri and Jia Bharali, have flown over the danger mark. They have washed villages and roads away due to heavy rain. 100,000 people have been rescued by the air force and security force personnel. The Kaziranga National Park and Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary have been hit. 7,000 hectares of agriculture was severely destroyed. 30,000 civilians are still affected by the flooding in the Nagaon district with an elephant and antelope lost within the floods.
1,500 people are being sheltered by 6 relief camps and 24 temporary shelters are now homes to 25,000 people. Vijay Bahuguna, Uttarakhand’s Chief Minister, that the federal government will aid 150,000 rupees [$2,500] to the families in the state besides compensation.
The heavy rainfall further lead to a Himalayan Tsunami, which resulted to the Indian Air Force carrying out the largest airlift in India’s history as they rescued residents and pilgrims and sent relief material.
Environmentalists ravaged their opinions on whether mother nature was entirely at fault. Most believe that the over-dramatic impacts of the flooding were due to the modification of the Himalayas’ natural state caused by humans. Devinder Sharma of the Forum for Biotechnology and Food Security talked to CNN and said, “ You’ve heard of homicide, well this is eccoside…The hills have been shorn of the forest cover, theres extensive mining taking place in this region and on top of that the roads that are being constructed are haphazard…We are playing with nature but at the same time blaming nature.”
CNN spoke to Souparno Banerjee, from the Indian advocacy group the Center for Science and Environment and she said, “Unregulated development and unregulated tourism is responsible for the scale of the disaster…The Himalayas are the biggest mountain range in the world, but they are also extremely fragile.”
Mayor Vijay Bahuguna responded and contradicted their opinions saying, “This is a very childish argument- that cloudbursts, earthquakes and tsunamis are caused by human factors. In the history of hundreds of years of Kedarnath, no such incident has taken place. In a Himalayan state this catastrophe has come about in 37,000 square miles of area. This cloudburst, 330 mm of rain, cannot be anticipated.”
Since mid-May the commencement of flooding has affected over 1.5 lakh people in over 500 villages across 12 districts in the state. This particular flooding disaster led the number of deaths and casualties fluctuate uncontrollably. Mayor Vijay Bahuguna is devasted at the disaster and fears that this would ruin the state’s economy. They rely on tourism and he fears that this major contribution will decline.
SURVIVORS OF THE FLOOD
AN ENVIRONMENTALISTS OPINION
‘Indian floods a man-mad disaster, say environmentalists’ [http://edition.cnn.com/2013/06/25/world/asia/india-floods-development]
‘Indian Floods: Nearly 6,000 Missing A Month After Devastating Inundation’ [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/15/india-floods-missing-6000_n_3597784.html]
‘Assam flood situation improves, 59 villages still under water’ [http://www.dnaindia.com/india/1861524/report-assam-flood-situation-improves-59-villages-still-under-water]
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ENVIRONMENTALISTS OPINIONS ON THE FLOODING
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- “The West African monsoon produced extreme rainfall in 2012”
- “Nigeria experienced the worst flooding in decades”
- Triggered flashfloods in Haiti
Climate Change is not only affecting the frequency of hazards, but the magnitude of hazards as well to such an extent where impacts are catastrophic.
CLICK HERE to know more about how Climate Change may be altering our planet for the worse.
“The Fingerprints of Climate Change on Two Extreme Natural Disasters” [http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/news-erratic-floods-and-droughts-%E2%80%93-two-extreme-disasters-and-fingerprints-climate-change]
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