Odisha was battered by a Super Cyclonic Storm on 29 October, 1999 that made landfall near Paradip (43976). The estimated maximum wind speed reached 260-270 kmph in the core area which produced a huge storm surge that led to sea-level elevation of more than 20 feet and took away valuable lives of nearly 10,000 people. It was accompanied with exceptionally heavy rains which led to devastating floods and cut off the State from the rest of the country.
The extent and severity of the destruction caused by the cyclone was unprecedented:
- Approximately 10,000 people lost their lives
- 19 million people living in 18,000 villages in 14 districts of the state were affected by the disaster
- Millions were left homeless with 750,000 houses completely destroyed and a further 1.12 million damaged
- Half a million animals and 1 million poultry were killed
- 1 million hectares of standing winter crops and other horticultural crops were destroyed
- 90 million trees were felled, destroying 95,000 hectares of forest cover which included 18,000 hectares of coastal belt plantations, 30,000 hectares of cashew plantations and 4.5 million coconut trees
- 14,000 water sources were damaged, including 6,000 irrigation points and 8,000 tanks and water harvesting structures
- Surface communications, telecommunications and power supplies suffered extensive damage with thousands of miles of power lines being destroyed leaving one third of the state without power for over a month
- 52,000kms of roads and 12,000 bridges were destroyed
- Health care facilities were destroyed or damaged
- The cyclone upset the already delicate livelihood system of people living in the affected areas, who were mostly marginal farmers:
- Loss crops and livestock devastated farmers and destroyed their livelihoods
- An estimated 18,400 fishing and 21,700 weaver families lost their livelihoods
- Betel vines worth millions of rupees were damaged affecting hundreds of families
- Wage labourers suffered due to a severe setback in all sectors of the rural economy leaving few employment opportunities
As soon as the fury of the cyclone abated CYSD began relief and rescue work in both urban and rural areas. At the same time it facilitated a collaborative civil society response to the disaster which led to the formation of an alliance of NGO’s and came to be known as the Orissa Disaster Mitigation Mission (ODMM).
Relief to Urban Slums
- Providing food relief through setting up the first community kitchen in the slums
- Helping people salvage materials from the debris to rebuild their homes and distributing polythene sheets to support this activity.
- Facilitating the formation of volunteer groups to clean water sources and drainage lines, distribute halogen tablets and explain how to use them, and to burn carcasses.
- Facilitating the formation of mobile health teams, which treated 11,354 people.
- Volunteers and serving together – see page 3 of report, and other pages for examples of volunteers and community working together
Relief and Rescue in Rural Areas
In rural areas CYSD operated from 19 nodal points to carry out relief and rescue work in 411 affected villages in 6 districts.
Food Relief: Community kitchens were set up in 335 villages providing food relief to 162,942 people.
Salvage and Retrieval Work, such as clearing and cleaning roads and water bodies, removing corpses and carcasses, retrieving school structures and individual houses, and repairing small bridges. These activities improved sanitation and made villages accessible.
The cyclone brought with it fears of an epidemic, such as cholera. Non-availability of drinking water, prolonged exposure to wind and rain, and lack of food and shelter were all factors responsible for widespread infection. Severe colds, coughs, fever and gastroenteric disorders were reported in most villages. CYSD facilitated the formation of health teams which carried out health check-ups at mobile health camps and at nodal dispensaries. 25,062 patients were treated, 5000 under-five children were treated
Temporary shelter materials were distributed to needy families. Food support for renovation of shelters under the Food for Work programme (FFW) was also provided, and as such 1,647 thatched houses were built for the most destitute.
Hunger, homelessness and loss of their everyday life-world, threatened school children with permanent disorientation in cyclone affected areas. With schools destroyed, books lost and parents focused on finding relief, children had nowhere to go. CYSD quickly responded by: Reviving schools by erecting makeshift shades and structures under the FFW programme. 49 schools were thus restarted within weeks of the cyclone. Midday meals were provided for about 1 week in 45 primary and high schools, and until the government resumed interrupted delivery of the Mid Day Meal (MDM) scheme. Book Banks were formed in 246 schools with 10 sets of books provided for each class. In view of loss of study days, examination guides and test papers were also distributed in these schools, and special coaching classes were held in 19 villages. Learning materials were supplied to existing Non Formal Education Centres (NFECs) and women’s groups were helped to establish 16 new NFECs. Restoration and Rehabilitation :
Once the immediate response and relief work came to an end, CYSD shifted the focus of its support to longer term restoration and rehabilitation. The population in the cyclone-affected areas faced a bleak future and were threatened with endemic food insecurity. Restoring livelihoods was of paramount importance, with agricultural regeneration given top priority.
Relief and Restoration :
- Repairing Agricultural Infrastructure through the Food for Work (FFW) Programme was planned.
- Relief and rescue operations carried out in 411 villages and 13 urban slums
- 366 community kitchens were run in 305 villages and 13 urban slums, benefiting a total of 47,506 households (229,992 people)
- Health check-ups conducted in 411 villages and 13 urban slums, 90 health camps organised and 25,062 patients treated
- 49 makeshift school structures built and 246 schools provided with educational material support
- 139,155 person days of work created through the Food for Work programme
Agriculture Regeneration Programme (kitchen gardens, summer crop, monsoon crop) carried out in 144 villages benefitting 6,000 farming households