Even for Odisha, used to nature's fury — which was hit by a super cyclone in 1999 named Paradip and which has been on the receiving end of storms such as Philin, Hudhud and last year's Titli — Fani's cruel dance of wind which turned into heavy rain was too much. In terms of intensity and severity, many, including CR Das, ex-additional secretary of Odisha government, termed it as almost equal to or worse than the 1999 disaster.
Trees have fallen, heavy electric poles have been damaged or toppled and walls have crumbled. The likelihood of basic facilities such as water, electricity or phones being restored in the next three or four days seems like a distant dream. Compare that to 1999, when normalcy was restored quickly in Bhubaneswar after the cyclone thanks to Chandrababu Naidu. Recalling those days, Siladitya Shastri, 49, said the team sent by Naidu functioned better and faster than machines. Naidu reduced the damage and brought life back to normal, but this time it's not the same, Shastri added.
The Odisha government sent a team of over 70 senior officers, including IAS and IPS officers, to tackle the crisis. It opened community kitchens, evacuated 11 lakh people and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik kept a constant eye on preparedness. However, in its reliance on the India Meteorological Department, perhaps the government wasn't adequately prepared for Friday's events.
The state, in all likelihood, will take years to get back to normal. With the communication network paralysed, it is hard to assess the damage. Travelling on two-wheelers is difficult due to the broken trees blocking the roads and branches — hanging perilously — which may come crashing down at any time. Just six months ago, the government spent big bucks on infrastructure and beautifying Bhubaneswar for the hockey world cup. The city looks ravaged and the infrastructure has been battered.
National Disaster Response Force, Orissa Disaster Rapid Action Force teams have been deployed across several districts, but going by the devastation that has been wrought in the city, one can only imagine the state of rural areas and how much time it will take to restore normalcy there.
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Updated Date: May 04, 2019 19:08:01 IST