Many of us remember the appalling catastrophe of the 1999 supercyclone which left communities in coastal Odisha traumatised.  It took years for them to recover and at the end of last week it seemed as though it was all going into replay.  We have spent the past few days holding our breath and hoping that the news from Odisha would not be terrible, so it feels like a miracle to hear that there has been so little loss of life.

Of course it is NOT a miracle.  It is the result of years of hard work on the part of communities supported by the state and national governments and by organisations which have channelled support from all over the world.  All along the coast are cyclone shelters donated by communities from across India and the world.  Training has been provided and groups of volunteers organised over the years for ‘Disaster Preparedness’.  The Government and Local Disaster Planning and Coordination Committees have made sure that all the lessons of the past have been learnt, and it has paid off.  The contrast with 1999 shows what is possible when people work together and support each other.

We have had no direct news of the MANGRO Project since Friday when we heard that all project equipment had been made secure and everyone in the area had taken shelter.  We know that, being some 100 km to the north of the eye of the storm, the area will have suffered the full impact of the wind and tidal surge.  In addition to the floods from the sea, water will be pouring down from the mountains as the cyclone drops its rain and as water is released from reservoirs in an attempt to save the dams from bursting.  The news from the District is that there hss been massive crop damage.  There will be much clearing up to do in the weeks to come.  We will let you know when we have more definite news

One of our Trustees will be visiting the project at the end of November on what was to have been a routine monitoring trip, but it will be a valuable chance to assess the impact and to see how all the project work stood the test of Cyclone Phailin.

So till we have more news, thank you for all the support that you have given over the years which has helped protect the coastline and strengthen communities.  We have all been part of a process which has reduced the terrible damage which could have been wrought by Cyclone Phailin.

Helena Nightingale

13 October, 2013