Kendrapara: The impact of Cyclone `Phailin` was less in this coastal district of Odisha, but disaster preparedness and timely evacuation nevertheless saved many lives.
The storm did not hit the coast here, but the wind velocity was above 100 km per hour, which could have resulted in casualties, former sarpanch of Jamboo gram panchayat, Arindam Mandal said.
Several lives were saved as people were safely ensconced in cyclone shelters, panchayat buildings and other structures located at higher altitudes, Mandal said.
District Collector Niranjan Nayak said, "There was a grave threat posed to nearly 150 villages because of proximity to the sea. Over 62,000 villagers were evacuated to safety by the early morning of October 11.
"Majority of them left on their own, while we had to evacuate a minor section of reluctant villagers. Our endeavour has paid dividends and there is no report of loss of human life though around 15,000 hutments suffered partial damage," he said.
Narayan Haldar, former sarpanch of seaside Kharinasi gram panchayat, said though there were lapses on part of government agencies as cyclone shelters were ill-maintained in some places and there was lack of adequate food stocks, still people are safe as they went to the shelters when it mattered the most.
Mantu Maity of Bagagahana village recounted, "14 years ago, the super cyclone had taken away everything from me. When it struck this area, I survived as I was in the only pucca house in our village, but lost three family members, including my parents. This time, I and the rest of the villagers left our houses for a cyclone shelter for safety."
60-year-old Amar Maharana, a rickshaw puller from Kendrapara town, had lost all six members of his family in the super cyclone on October 29, 1999. He chose the safety of a cyclone shelter on October 12.
"I did not venture outside and stayed in a concrete building in Badahaat," he said.
"We knew the ferocity and brute force of sea and gale. Nobody here took chances," added Sashmita Mohanty, former sarpanch of Satabhaya gram panchayat.