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Cyclone Fani survivors: Civic workers battle massive odds in Bhubaneswar as they race against time to normalise power, water supply

Editor's note: Cyclone Fani has left in its wake a trail of destruction in Odisha. This multi-part reported series tells of who survived the devastation.

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It's not yet 7 in the morning. Scores of people are crowding at the OMFED (Orissa State Cooperative Milk Producers' Federation) stalls-apart from dairy products one gets good tea at such shops located at almost every 500 metres distance in Bhubaneswar.

 Cyclone Fani survivors: Civic workers battle massive odds in Bhubaneswar as they race against time to normalise power, water supply

Civic workers clear uprooted trees from a road after Cyclone Fani made landfall, in Bhubaneswar, Friday, 3 May, 2019. PTI

Most of them were waiting to buy milk packets, others sipping their morning tea and discussing, rather trying to gather information from others, on the status of electricity and water supply.

Having spent dark nights—four in a row—and facing water scarcity due to the power breakdown, electricity and water is on everyone's thought.

Some are waiting for the newspaper to arrive so that they can have the latest update.

However, at the CRPF square, Dayanidhi Das doesn't seem to be bothered by the lack of either power or water. For, on the top of his agenda at the moment is how quickly he can reach his destination.

He waves his hands at each and every already overloaded, autorickshaws to take him to Kalpana square, eight kilometres away.

Finally, he manages to get inside one. He is happy for he can reach early and continue what he and his other colleagues have been doing for the last three days—clearing roads blocked caused by fallen trees—after Cyclone Fani hit the coastal state hard.

"A lot of work has to be done to facilitate the quick restoration of power," says Dayanidhi who works as a Workers Sardar (supervisor) at Bhubaneswar Municipality Corporation(BMC). "In my close to three-decade service this is indeed the biggest challenge before us."

On the morning of 3 May, the day Cyclone Fani showed its might, Dayanidhi and 12 of his colleagues was assigned the responsibility to restore the basic services at Saheed Nagar area of Bhubaneswar as soon as possible if it gets affected. With the wind soon upgrading itself to a squall, Dayanidhi feared the worst.

"The tree near us was swinging wildly and that alarmed us," he says.

"Bhubaneswar was beautiful for the green cover it had. All of them are gone, even the very old ones are no more. It's painful to see the trees lying on the ground," Dayanidhi says.

All BMC employees had been advised to remain alert and their leaves were cancelled from 1 May. Following Cyclone Fani's landfall, they are working in unison for long hours, even at times without food.

"Our bosses are working round the clock, supervising everything. They are trying to ensure that we are provided transport, food and drinking water so that work is not disturbed," says another employee at Dayanidhi's office.

The rescue work done by the National Disaster Response Force along with Orissa Disaster Rapid Action Force(ODRAF) teams has also been praised by many.

"All of us need to learn from them how to perform in trying and challenging conditions. They have been just amazing," says Niranjan Panda, a resident of Acharya Vihar locality.

An ODRAF personnel in his 20s, who was deployed during previous cyclones to carry out relief work, effectively explained the fury of Cyclone Fani.

"I was deployed at Gopalpur during Cyclone Hudhud in 2014. I also worked in Gajapati district after it was hit by Cyclone Titli last year. But Fani has been the severest of all," he says, unwilling to be named.

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Updated Date: May 08, 2019 10:32:55 IST