Cyclone Fani: 16 dead, Puri struggles to return on feet
Cyclone Fani, the rare storm which hit Odisha on Friday wreaked havoc in Puri, the home of Lord Jagannath, with residents struggling in the absence of drinking water and food. The death toll due to Fani (pronounced as Foni) reached 16. While authorities managed to minimize loss of lives due to swift evacuations, properties, including roads and buildings, were damaged. Here's what we know.
Parts of Jagannath Temple has been damaged
Puri was one of the first towns to be hit by Fani. During landfall, the wind speed was estimated at around 220 kmph. Even parts of the historic temple were damaged. Due to uprooted trees, road connectivity has been affected. Puri district collector Jyoti Prakash Das told HT that teams haven't been able to reach areas like Krushnsprasad, Bramhagiri, and Astaranga.
While highways are functioning, problem of inaccessibility remains
"Though we have managed to somehow clear the national highway connecting Bhubaneswar and the roads in the town, many interior roads are inaccessible. We have pressed NDRF and ODRAF teams for the job. We have opened around 25 free kitchens in the town," Das added.
Locals are living in uncertainty, have no food
Authorities are confident that things would change for better in the next week. But residents are getting restless. Housewife Pushpalata Patra told the daily she doesn't know what to feed her kids as her house has been destroyed. She is forced to buy drinking water. Separately, Sushmita Sahu, who lived in Ramchandi sahu slum, said 10 kg rice which she stored has turned soggy.
Government has to rebuild 10,000 villages, 53 urban areas
The government has taken on the mammoth task of rebuilding 10,000 villages and 52 urban areas. Like Puri, capital city Bhubaneshwar and Cuttack slipped into darkness as there has been no sign of power since Friday night. Most of the thatched houses have been flattened, and lakhs of mobile and electric poles have been uprooted. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said infrastructure was torn apart.
Rarity of Fani made prediction difficult, said Patnaik
"Fani is one of the rarest of rare cyclones - the first to hit in 43 years and one of three to hit in 150 years. Because of the rarity, the prediction and tracking of the cyclone were challenging," said Patnaik.
Puri and Bhubaneshwar could get connectivity by Monday
Hemant Sharma, Odisha energy secretary, said 10,000 electric poles in Bhubaneshwar have been uprooted affecting 30 lakh customers. Meanwhile, Special Relief Commissioner Bishnupada Sethi was hopeful some connectivity would be restored by Monday. "By Monday we are trying to restore BSNL connectivity in Puri and Bhubaneswar. We are trying to restore power in large parts of Bhubaneswar by Sunday," he added.
Flight services resumed but trains are still hit
Flight operations restarted in Bhubaneshwar on Saturday and many passengers were sent to Delhi via special planes. Train services also resumed in some sections of Howrah-Chennai route. However, trains won't run to and from Puri till May 10, an East Coast Railway (ECoR) official said. Centre has postponed AIIMS and NEET examinations for Odisha students. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Odisha on Monday.
Here's how you can help Odisha
You can also do your bit by contributing online to https://cmrfodisha.gov.in/donation/onlinedonation.php. Cheques and DDs for offline donations can be sent to Additional Secretary to Government, Chief Minister's Relief Fund, General Administration & Public Grievance Department, Odisha Secretariat, Bhubaneswar-751001. Notably, NGO Goonj is inviting donations. You can send food items, clothes, utensils, and toiletries. You can visit their website, https://goonj.org/cyclone-fani, for details.