Cyclone in Odisha

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Help Cyclone Victims in India

October 15, 2013

Christian Aid Mission is working with Indian ministries in the Odisha region to bring emergency relief to coastal areas hit hard by this past weekend’s massive cyclone.

Cyclone Phailin made landfall Oct. 12 as a Category 4 storm, with sustained winds exceeding 130 miles per hour. Although loss of life was minimal due to large-scale evacuations, flooding has inundated homes and destroyed 1.2 million acres of crops.

A ministry based in Balasore sent two work teams out to several locations Monday, seeking to assess the extent of the damage within the district. The local government has set up rescue and relief operations on the campus of the ministry’s Bible training facility.

“There is no electricity and no internet connection in the city. The damage is so huge that perhaps it will take more than two weeks to restore power,” said Pastor Hrudaya, the leader of the ministry.

He reported that the national highway was still covered by three feet of water, and some areas in the city were experiencing water levels above five feet.

Today the ministry plans to send three teams out for preliminary survey work in the districts of Remuna, Bhadrak, Nayagarh, and Ganjam.

“We will keep you informed of day-to-day operations. As of today people need food, water, and medicine,” Hrudaya said.

At least 873,000 people in the eastern state of Odisha and 100,000 in neighboring Andhra Pradesh sought safety in evacuation centers, some of which were built after a 1999 storm killed over 9,000 people in the area. Most residents heeded the warnings to leave coastal areas. As of Tuesday, there are only 21 confirmed deaths.

Evacuated families will be returning to their communities as soon as floodwaters recede. They will likely find little to salvage, particularly in poor farming villages along the coast where the storm wreaked the most havoc.

“The government will do what it can, but it doesn’t have all the systems in place to offer much help. They don’t have a FEMA. The communities will have to pull together,” said Sarla Mahara, the South Asia director for Christian Aid.

“The need is great, and Christian Aid can help meet those needs quickly because we work directly with the ministries rather than having to go through the government,” she said. “There’s no red tape, and no need for us to send someone from our staff. The ministry workers are right there to respond immediately.”

The first objective is to provide food packages ($50) to displaced families. Funds for tarps to build temporary shelters for displaced families and assistance with rehabilitating damaged churches will also be needed.

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