Saturday, 11 October 2014

Amid preparation to face Hudhud, Phailin memory returns

BERHAMPUR (Odisha): While preparing to face cyclone 'Hudhud' which will make the landfall tomorrow, the people of Ganjam district find it difficult to erase the memory of cyclone Phailin that hit them hard exactly the same day, October 12.

For the people of this district, located in south Odisha, October 12 means a 'black night'.

"The cyclone Phailin has robbed our family," 20-year-old Asha said while recalling how her father Rabindra Kothia had died that night last year.

Kothia, along with his family members, had taken shelter at a place near his house at Khodasingi locality.

He did not return as the wall of the house collapsed on him, said Asha, with tears rolling down her cheeks.

"Our heart-beat runs fast when we hear the word cyclone," said Satish, Kothia's 18-year-old son who was forced to take up a job at a garage after the death of the sole bread winner of the family.

"As we lost our father due to Phailin, we moved to a safe place voluntarily before landfall of Hudhud," he said.

Sunita of Bijipur area in the town lit up a lamp in front of her daughter Anita's photo when she heard that Hudhud is approaching.

Her 9-year-old daughter died in Phailin on October 12 last year. "We had taken shelter in a neighboring house on that night. She died on the spot when a brick fell on her head," said her father Gobaradhan Behera.

"We pray to God to save us from another cyclone," said Sunita. "We have got compensation from the government, but we can't get back our daughter," she said.

At least 16 persons had died and around 50 had sustained severe injuries in the cyclone Phailin in Ganjam district.

"When we heard about Hudhud, we started preparation to face the cyclone once again," said 50-year-old Panda who lives in a slum here. Like her, people in the slums covered the roof of their huts with polythene sheets with heavy stones on it to keep it from blowing away.

However, the Berhampore Municipal Corporation (BMC) would shift around 5,000 people to safe places.

"At least 50 such places with all facilities have been selected," BMC Commissioner Anjana Panda said, adding pregnant women would be shifted to city hospital or medical college.

The government has decided to implement a Rs 200-crore Odisha Disaster Recovery project with World Bank assistance in the town to improve infrastructure facilities.

The roads, drains, street lights in slum pockets and drinking water supply would be made available in the town under the scheme, Panda said.

The government has also decided to make Berhampur slum-free with construction of pucca houses under Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY), after the cyclone had ripped the town, she said.

Even though the project is waiting for implementation, the BMC is bracing to face the Hudhud and its probable impact in the town, she said.

"We have also arranged special food for the children in the shelter house. Our main aim is to save the life at the time of eventuality," Panda added.

High mast and ornamental lights have already been removed from different streets. BMC authorities also ordered removal of big hoardings which may pose hazards during the cyclone, she said. Municipal Corporation

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