Millennium Post

Radio, mobiles saved lives during Phailin, confess cyclone survivors

He packed essential items such as beaten rice, sugar, clothes, money and his radio set and went to the nearby cyclone shelter along with his wife and two small children, immediately after a special radio bulletin said people needed to evacuate.

The bulletin warned those who are staying within five km of the coast in dilapidated, thatched house or homes with asbestos roofing to move to safer places, Jena said.

‘Our house got damaged which we will re-build, but thank god we could save our lives. It was the radio which informed us about the danger,’ the cyclone survivor told media while sitting near his destroyed house less than two km from the coast at the beach town of Puri, about 56 kms from capital Bhubaneswar.

The storm ripped off the asbestos roof of his house and destroyed both the rooms. Only some broken bricks are scattered around. Jena has been trying to resume his life at the site where he returned a day after the storm crossed the coast, tearing apart hundreds of thousands of houses like his.

Not only Jena, the radio helped a large number of families make their plans ahead of the storm and decide their next course of action.

The very severe tropical cyclone that struck October 12 night near state’s port town of Gopalpur in Ganjam district, left a trail of destruction, bringing heavy rain and causing floods.

Although damage to property was estimated at several thousand crore rupees, the loss of humans was minimal compared to the 1999 super-cyclone that claimed over 10,000 lives. The toll from the latest cyclone and flooding has so far remained at only 44.

The fewer casualties have been attributed to the evacuation of more than one million people to safety hours before the disaster.

While government officials played a major role in the evacuation, without mobile phones and the radio it would not have been possible to achieve this, a senior official in the disaster management department admitted. Arun Kumar Subuddhi, the owner of Time and Sound that deals in Philips radios in Bhubaneswar, said the demand was so high that he sold more than 600 sets within hours after the first warning of the cyclone was sounded.

‘Three days later, people were still looking for radios and we sold more than 100 sets,’ he added. The state-run broadcaster All India Radio (AIR), which reaches more than 80 per cent of Odisha, particularly the interior rural pockets, prepared days before the cyclone struck and stocked adequate diesel to ensure uninterrupted transmission from its various centres.

Odisha seeks Rs 4,242 cr aid

Bhubaneswar: Odisha government has sought Rs 4,242.41 crore from the Centre towards repair and restoration work following the devastation caused by Cyclone Phailin and the subsequent flood.
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