The tropical cyclones are one of the most destructive natural disasters, and their impact extends over a wide area, with extremely strong winds and heavy rains. Cyclone Fani has been the most severe storm (Category-4) since decades that hit eastern India with a wind speed of 180-195 kph (111-121mph). This storm has adversely affected electricity supply and telecommunication, along with immense infrastructural damage in several coastal areas of Odisha (an east-Indian state), including my home-town – Bhubaneswar where my parents reside.
It all started around 11AM on May 2, 2019 (IST), when the heavy wind and rain-pour started seeping through the windows and balcony doors. My parents live in an apartment complex on the 14th floor, and when I spoke to them that morning, it had all just begun. I saw my parents frantically running around the house tightening the windows and trying every possible way to stop the water from seeping in. Soon after, things got worse. One of the bedroom windows broke along with the window frame and flew outside, and the doors of the closets started opening up with things flying in all direction. When they tried closing them, two of the closet doors broke from the hinge and flew out the window. This created so much panic that my mother went on to hold the doors for the other closets for about 3 hours to save any important belongings from flying out of the window. Meanwhile, my dad was running from one balcony to another to hold on to the sliding doors from breaking, and my sister was alternating with him. In this chaos, one of the sliding doors came off and fell on my sister, and the wind was so strong that she landed on the floor with the door on her. Luckily, the glass door did not break or else she could have been terribly injured. This cyclone shook my family up and they witnessed some horrifying sequence of events for about 10 hours until the wind slowed down. When it did, it soaked our carpets and furniture, took away a lot of our belongings, left my family with minor injuries and dreadful memories. They are still continuing to live with no electricity and telecommunication service, and working through fixing the damages. During these last few days, while I sat here thousands of miles away from home and my family, I realized how the fury of the nature can leave you extremely helpless.
All in all, I am thankful that they are safe and sheltered. The infrastructural damage can be fixed over a period of time, however, the terror that they witnessed is going to take quite some time to heal. Although this is a difficult time for my family, there are million others who lost their homes and their livelihood and are living in shelters. Cyclones are no stranger to my native state – Odisha. We endured a ravaging one 20 years ago, which destroyed villages, killing thousands and leaving them with ruins. However, this time the government was prepared and rightfully as the NY Times states, “this is a remarkable achievement, especially in a poor state in a developing country the, product of a meticulous evacuation plan in which the authorities, sobered by past tragedies, moved a million people to safety, really fast.”
Hurricane Sandy, Tropical Storm Hermine, Haiti Earthquake, Cyclone Fani are all fleeting names in our memories and we often forget the trauma and impact that it leaves behind, until we witness one of our own suffering through it. Thus, we are encouraging you to contribute to rebuild Odisha again, to contribute to alleviate the pain, and to impart renewed energy and strengthen the people of Odisha. Below are some of the ways you can help –
If you live in India, you can contribute using the below: www.cmrfodisha.gov.in
If you do not live in India, you can still help using Go Fund Me below: https://www.gofundme.com/f/OdishaSocietyForFaniRelief