Phalin aftermath: Odisha battles flood fury; rehabilitation a big challenge

After coming out relatively unscathed from Cyclone Phailin’s fury, Odisha is now facing the brunt of floods, with majority of its river flowing above the danger mark.

Updated: Oct 16, 2013, 13:45 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau

Bhubaneswar: After coming out relatively unscathed from Cyclone Phailin’s fury, Odisha is now facing the brunt of floods, with majority of its river flowing above the danger mark.

Though the state government`s disaster preparedness and timely evacuation has saved many lives, the flood situation is impeding the relief and rehabilitation work in the state.

According to reports, Balasore is the worst affected area with more than 68,000 people hit by the overflowing rivers. Subarnarekha, Vaitarani and Budhabalang rivers are flowing above the danger mark.

Mayurbhanj, Jajpur and Bhadrak districts are other places, which have been severely hit by floods triggered due to the peripheral effect of the high-velocity cyclone.

The impact of Cyclone `Phailin` was less in Kendrapar. Several lives were saved as people were safely ensconced in cyclone shelters, panchayat buildings and other structures located at higher altitudes.

The Odisha government has intensified relief efforts in the areas affected by cyclonic storm Phailin after flood waters started receding.

"We have intensified relief efforts in the affected areas as the flood waters have started receding," state`s Special Relief Commissioner Pradeep Mohapatra said.

Air dropping of food packets has also been stopped, as all the affected places are now approachable by road or in boats, he said.

"We have so far evacuated at least 112,000 people. We do not think any further evacuation is required," he added. However, television channels showed footage of people stranded on house tops and high-rise embankments.

Heavy rain brought by cyclone Phailin that hit the state coast Saturday night triggered floods in Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Jajpur and Bhadrak districts.

More than a million people were affected when water from major rivers and their tributaries submerged low-lying areas and swamped homes.

Mohapatra said except some places in Balasore district, situation is fast improving.

In Balasore, water level in the Subarnarekha River was rising after heavy rain in the upper catchment area, revenue divisional commissioner Arabinda Kumar Padhee, supervising relief and rescue operation in the area, said.

The army, the National Disaster Response Force, the Odisha Disaster Response Force and the state police are continuing relief operations in the affected areas, he said.

The worst-hit districts are Ganjam, Puri, Khordha and Gajapati.
Although damage to properties was estimated in crores of rupees, loss of humans was minimal compared to the 1999 super cyclone that claimed over 10,000 lives. The low casualty was due to large-scale evacuation before the cyclone struck, officials said.

The toll due to the latest cyclone and flooding rose to 28 as the government yesterday confirmed five more deaths due to floods.

More than 10 lakh people from the low-lying coastal areas are sheltered in safer places. While some have returned home, many were still living in relief camps and shelters as their houses were damaged.

According to preliminary government estimate, more than a crore people in the state have been affected. More than two lakh houses have been damaged in Ganjam district.

Meanwhile, the government Tuesday announced Rs.4 lakh from the Chief Minister`s Relief Fund and Rs.2 lakh from the Prime Minister`s National Relief Fund to the kin of those killed in the disaster.

Besides, those seriously injured will receive Rs.50,000 from the Prime Minister`s National Relief Fund.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has directed officials to hand over the compensation amount to the eligible within next two days.

With IANS inputs