Kirti Mishra, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) India’s operations manager based in Bhubaneshwar, spent the night in her home about 35 miles from the coast. She gave this firsthand account of her experience as Cyclone Phailin passed over the city. She is part of the Catholic Relief Services’ team in eastern India now assisting those affected by the cyclone.
Even before Cyclone Phailin became very severe, we could hear the wind menacing like a cobra. Everyone was afraid in the city as the heavy downpour started. I could see the trees and electricity poles falling, roads getting washed away and water entering into the houses in the low lying areas. We could not make any phone calls as all mobile networks gradually failed. There was no power and water supplies cut out.
This morning when I left my home, it looked so devastating. I could see roads blocked with uprooted trees and response teams clearing the roads. Houses made of mud and bamboo were the worst hit and homes in the slums have completely collapsed and roofs are blown away. People in those poor neighborhoods have taken shelter with neighbors or relatives. Field access is difficult for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) staff at this time, but the government is clearing roads and establishing access points quickly.
One of our partners in Puri informed me that the embankments in the Malakuni River have been breached, inundating 44 villages. Flights and trains remained cancelled today but transportation is slowly coming back. People are acknowledging the evacuation efforts made by the government that led to minimum causalities, and the government is out in force today in rescue and relief operations. It’s impressive to see the government’s preparedness and post-cyclone work.
Tomorrow I’ll be in the field helping with assessments and determining how CRS can best help. I’m looking forward to visiting some of the people who we help through long-term development projects and seeing how they fared in the cyclone. Catholic Relief Services and the local Church will walk with them through this emergency and continue the important work we’re doing in our ongoing projects.