Kendrapara (Odisha): Memories of death and destruction caused by October 29-30 super cyclone of 1999 in seaside pockets of Odisha`s Kendrapara district still haunt survivors as they observe the 14th death anniversary of their near and dear ones.
Chandan Manna (42) of Kansara-Badadandua village is distraught recounting the cataclysmic moments of the killer cyclone. Manna had lost his sister and brother-in-law and two nephews who were swept away by ten-foot tall tidal waves.
"We are observing the ritual of death anniversary. We are unable to wipe out the nightmarish hours. I was deeply attached towards the family. It is difficult to erase their fond memory," he recounted.
Devastation had raised its ugly head at Kendrapara, one of the worst ravaged areas during the 1999 super-cyclone, which accounted for 546 human casualties. As many as 1,308 villages scattered across nine blocks, besides two urban local bodies, had borne the brunt of nature`s fury.
Though reconstruction and restoration work undertaken by government and private agencies have restored order in the ravaged human settlements, the human toll due to cyclone is still shrouded in controversy. The toll was on a higher side. But many had failed to submit death certificates for their family members.
Like Manna, many of the survivors have found it a difficult proposition to forget the sad demise of their near and dear ones.
For Amar Maharana (63), a trolley rickshaw puller from Badahaat locality of Kendrapara township, the trauma of losing wife and four children is still intact.
"I was witness to tragedy that unfolded right before my eyes. For better income, I had migrated to nearby Paradip port. I was staying in Sandhakuda slum colony on the outskirts of port township. It was during early morning hours of October 30, a massive sea wave came crashing towards the colony. It must be above 20-foot tall. Everything was over in few minutes. My wife, two sons and two daughters met watery grave. Their bodies could not be retrieved. I survived with one of my sons as we luckily clutched onto an electric pole," he recounted with tears streaming from his eyes.
I had got nearly Rs 4 lakh ex-gratia compensation against their death after seven years of fight against red-tape. "With the sum, I have managed to rebuild my life. But the scar of their loss is deeply etched in my mind. No amount of money could make up the loss of dear and near ones," he remarked.