News of cyclone Phailin has disappeared from our radios and televisions, largely because the loss of life was so small. However, the problems in Odisha continue, partly as a result of the cyclone, and partly due to the continuing deluge. Ranjit, the Director of our partner organisation CHALE CHALO, sent us this description:
Since 21st Oct, it has been raining and raining and raining very heavily in coastal Odisha and other parts of Odisha too. Floods are now in most of the rivers and affecting most of the districts including Kendrapara. The rains are so much since 21st and no stop. Roads have been cut off and it is difficult to move because water is everywhere.
The mangrove nursery and plantation sites and all around the MANGRO Centre have water and water and water. Luckily Rama and team had repaired the damaged thatched roof of MANGRO Centre, but still in few places we have rain water leaks. The cyclone and first flash flood did not seriously affect our project areas/villages, because all precautionary measures had been taken with the help of our volunteers and staff. Especially the women Self-help group leaders, youth leaders, high school students and teachers promoted by us played a major role in evacuation and cyclone preparation works.
But sudden unexpected rains due to depression have once again shattered the lives and there are around more than 100 villages on the other side of the embankment and places nearer to rivers which have been severely affected by the floods. Rains – my god — so much and so heavily – I have never experienced in my life. For which there have been disruptions in electricity supply and vehicular movements. There will still rains for another couple of days— till 27th October and I presume there will be severest floods again.
The relief and rehabilitation works for the Phailin- and already flood-affected people have been disrupted. The people are suffering a lot especially in Ganjam, Nayagarh, Puri, Jajpur, Balesware, Bhadrak, Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur Districts. There are 17 districts and 1.5 cores people (15 million) affected by the cyclone. The Chief Minister today ordered for evacuation of lakhs of people (hundreds of thousands) again due to impending floods. The dams are opening the gates and releasing more water into the rivers and onto the plains. Every moment the situation is becoming grimmer and grimmer and the rains are pouring more and more.
Regarding the cyclone, the people in our project areas are of the view that due to complete stop of cutting of mangrove forests and creation of new mangrove forests and other massive plantation, the cyclone did not directly hit the area which had happened earlier in 1971 and 1982 due to mercilessly cutting and destruction of mangrove forests without any resistance. This time everybody was expecting heavy loss but the area was saved as some say due to cooling effect of mangrove forests (need to be scientifically proof). Some scientists have said this was the reason Bhitarkanika (National Park) was less affected in 1999. One thing is now very much clear is that people now realise the importance of mangrove forests and also the value of trees, and the project has carried the message very strongly to every nook and corner of the project blocks.
We have been supporting the local administration in early warning, evacuation and relief operation in affected project and non-project villages in Pattamundai and Rajnagar block. These works have been affected due to incessant heavier rains. People not affected are inside the house. There are problems in having enough food, safe drinking water, sanitation, health and hygiene and doing other normal works. There are waterborne and other diseases everywhere. Complete loss of paddy and vegetable crops as well as wage and income loss for weeks together. If the rains stops on 27th as predicted, the floods will be for another 2 to 3 days and then 10 to 15 days for normalcy. We are planning to send some volunteers from our project in Western Odisha to help with relief work.
Still raining and raining in Bhubaneswar, Kendrapara district and other districts at the moment. NO STOP . . . WHAT HAPPENED TO THE CLOUDS AND THE SKY? . . . SO MUCH WATER POURING ON EARTH . . . COMPLETELY ABNORMAL . . .
One of our Trustees is off to Odisha as part of an already planned monitoring visit. She will be in the MANGRO Project area in three weeks time, and as soon as she can get access to the internet she will let us have further news. In the meantime, if you have any questions, you can email her on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Helena Nightingale – 25 Oct., 2013