By Matters India Reporter
New Delhi, May 15, 2019: UNICEF India has appealed for funds from the public to help millions of people, especially children, affected by the Cyclone Fani.
The cyclone, considered extremely severe, hit the eastern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal on May 3. It was reportedly the strongest tropical cyclone to hit the eastern Indian region for many years, according to a UNICEF report.
The cyclone was untimely; one of the rarest summer cyclones, the first in 43 years and one of 3 to hit Odisha in the past 150 years, according to reliefweb.int.
The category 4 storm affected around 15 million people, includingv4.8 million children, in some 15,000 villages in Odisha, the worst affected among the three states. It infected water sources, damaged more than 5,000 school buildings and disrupted over 1,000 health facilities in the state.
“The situation is grim for the people of Odisha, especially children, who are more vulnerable to disease, malnutrition and neglect,” says the report.
The Odisha government coordinated one of the largest emergency preparedness exercises with more than 45,000 volunteers, 2,000 emergency workers, 100,000 officials, youth clubs, and other civil society organizations.
The National Disaster Response Force, Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force, and Panchayati Raj Institutions agencies too worked round the clock to evacuate 1.47 million people and relocate them to temporary shelters well before the landfall of Fani.
The unprecedented mobilization, born out of conscientious resilience building initiatives by the government and NGOs, has helped keep the casualties low. Despite the intensity of the cyclone, loss of lives was reduced. So far 64 persons have reportedly died and 160 injured in the cyclone, according to the State Emergency Operation Centre, Bhubaneswar.
The United Nations recognized this as a good practice for effective preparedness and early warning.
Despite the success in avoiding higher death tolls, the cyclone has severely affected lives and livelihoods of more than 28 million people across three states. Total affected districts in three states are 24.
Severely impacted areas are all in Odisha, mainly the districts of Puri (where the cyclone made landfall), Khurdha, Cuttack, Nayagarh and Jagatsinghpur.
Most children affected in Odisha reside in villages and slums deprived of even basic necessities. Critical services to children continue to be disrupted in the affected districts even after a week, the report says.
In Andhra Pradesh, the districts of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Vishakhapatnam were impacted, affecting a total of 733 villages across.
In West Bengal, districts of Kolkata, East and West Medinipur, Jhargram, South and North 24 Parganas, Howrah and Hooghly were marginally impacted.
Normalcy slowly returned to Odisha a week after the cyclone hit the state. Federal and state government have worked on a war footing for relief and restoration, according to reliefweb.int.
An interministerial team of the federal government is in Odisha to review the extent of damage caused in the aftermath of the cyclone.
The 11-member team led by Vivek Bhardwaj, additional secretary in the home ministry, has visisted several areas in the state to ascertain the damage.
The team also visited Bhubaneswar and Cuttack to prepare its report to the federal government.
Indian Oil took the initiative to provide free medicines. Doctors visit homes of the affected and provide medicines.
The government has started giving 50 kilo rice, 2,000 rupees and 2 liter kerosene oil per family free of cost. Mobile ATM also provide money to people at the doorstep.
Although many people still struggle for basic amenities such as food, water and electricity in severely affected districts of Puri and Khurda, the state government’s priority is to provide electricity, food grains and medicines.
Electricity has returned to some areas in the state while some remain in dark. Telephone lines are also being restored. More than 6,000 schools were also affected by the cyclone.