We returned from Puri last night. There is no water, electricity and telephone connectivity. We estimate at least a week’s time for these services to return to normalcy.
The 200 people from the Birsa Munda Basti in Sahidnagar who had taken shelter in our office, do not have any homes to return to. Arrangements are being made for candles, food and water to meet their needs. There is wide spread devastation. Majority of the houses in urban bastis are damaged and the tarpaulins that covered their roofs have blown off.
While on the way to Puri yesterday we witnessed that standing crops had been completely damaged. Coconut and other trees uprooted. Puri town is in bad shape. We heard that about 200 people have been admitted in the government hospital.
While roads are being cleared, we could not reach Astaranga block which we had visited just before the landfall on 2nd May and had to return half way.
Because of the severity of the storm, people were not moved to the cyclone shelters which are generally 500 metres away from sea, but to other places, mostly schools 10-11 kms away. On our last visit their we had seen one such school. It is over-crowed and the infrastructure not enough to house so many people – water, toilets etc. There was no provision for special needs of children, mothers and the old. They are unattended.
The Astaranga block will be rehabilitated fourth time due to cyclones. We had supported relief and rehab work here after Phailin and also before. 92 single women were supported for livelihood rebuilding for betel vine farm, boats and nets etc which is all likely to be gone.
As part of the ActionAid Association Emergency Response Team in Odisha we will be supporting relief interventions in Bhubaneswar urban and Puri Rural (Astaranga block). Our long term ally Center for Child and Women Development (CCWD) are located in Bhubaneswar and in Puri we have another long term ally Young India. Young India runs a community radio network Radio Namaskar, which had broadcasted a cyclone warning to 700 villages within a 35km radius of the affected zone over the last week. They announced the locations of existing cyclone shelters and safe places and participated in community evacuation processes.
While we are still preparing the final situation report we have seen the immediate need for immediate food packets, water, medicines, hygiene kits and solar lamps. We need to supply materials to make temporary shelters and start repair of housing.
We estimate that the communities in the affected areas will require a comprehensive relief and rehabilitation package for at least six months, incorporating delivery of materials and provision of cash for work programmes.