Berhampur, the biggest city in southern Odisha, on Monday looked like a war zone as Cyclone Phailin left behind a trail of destruction. The cyclone accompanied by heavy rain hit Gopalpur, about 15 km from Behrampur, and battered the city and its nearby areas.
Official sources said two persons were killed after walls collapsed on them in the town. Scores of trees and electric poles were uprooted disrupting traffic movement in the town while at least three mobile towers were blown away under the impact of the high speed wind.
Walls of various government buildings and private houses collapsed at many places in which two persons were killed in the town while decorated Durga puja pandals were blown aside.
The boundary walls of juvenile home at Khudashingh and KhallikoteAutonomousCollege had collapsed under the impact of the gale.
"I had never seen such devastation in my life", a 50-year-old trader Shankar Rao said. The city had experienced a lot of devastation in 1999, a fortnight before the Super Cyclone.
The district administration and the police in coordination with the National Disaster Response Force, the Orissa Disaster Rapid Action Force and fire brigade personnel were busy in clearing major roads.
Deputy Inspector General of Police Amitabh Thakur and Superintendent of Police Anirudha Singh were monitoring the rescue operation.
A big slum area in Khaja street in the town was completely destroyed by the natural disaster though the people living there were shifted the night before the cyclone hit the coast as part of Berhampur Municipal Corporation's drive to shift slum dwellers to safer places.
Ganjam District Collector Kissan Kumar said restoration of normalcy was the top priority of the administration and efforts were on to supply drinking water to all areas.
The state Revenue and Disaster Management Minister said the flood waters have also submerged Basudevpur, Dhamnagar and Chandbali blocks in Bhadrak district.
Describing the Odisha flood situation as grim, especially in Balasore, Mohapatra said the water level in BudhabalangaRiver has risen to 9.24 m against the red mark of 8.13 m at Gobindpur near NH five.
The SubarnarekhaRiver was now flowing at 11.7 m against the danger level of 10.36 meter at Rajghat near Jaleswar, he said adding 39 panchayats in four blocks of Balasore were in the grip of flood.
It is apprehended that the BudhabalangaRiver might rise further in Balasore in view of heavy rains in the catchment areas, official sources said. The JalakaRiver was flowing at 6.73 meters against its danger level of 5.50 at Basta. Small rivers like Sona, Gangahar, Kansa and Bausa were also in spate in Balasore district, they said.
Roads between Basta and Baliapal and Balasore and Jaleswar were submerged and three feet of water was flowing on the roads. Flood fury also loomed over Ganjam district, the worst hit by Cyclone 'Phailin'.
Rivers Rushikulya and Badanadi had crossed danger level at Aska, on Monday morning though there is no report of any loss.
"The water level of both the rivers is likely to recede by this evening", said R N Swain, chief engineer-cum-basin manager of Rushikulya, Bansadhara and Nagabali rivers.
Swain said that the BadanadiRiver was flowing at 36.15 metre at Aska up from its danger level of 35.42 metre, while the Rushikulya's level at Aska stood at 34.75 metre up from its danger level 33.85 metere.
The Rushikulya was now flowing at 81.33 metre, near its danger level of 81.99 metre at Sorada, while at Purushottampur it is flowing at 17.150 metre against the danger level of 16.83 metre. He said BadanadaiRiver was flowing at 60.04 metre at Madhabarida against near its danger level of 60.65 metre while Bansadhara at Kasinagar in adjoining Gajapati district is flowing at 54.25 metre against the danger level of 54.60 metre.
The Badanadi has caused two breaches at Gujarari and Ratnagiri near Sorisamul barrage. Almost all the reservoirs in Ganjam are now full with the waters touching the Flood Reserve Level, Swain said, adding that Bhanganagar reservoir was now discharging 7.77 cubic metre of water while the Daha reservoir at Bhanjanagar was discharging 21.85 cubic metre of water.
Patro said restoration was a 'big challenge' in Ganjam district. "All roads up to block level have been cleared. However, power supply to Berhampur and some other towns in Ganjam district may not be be restored early as 48 towers and a grid station at Narendrapur have been damaged in the cyclone."
The government has made provision of milk supply to Ganjam and was taking other steps for return of normalcy in the district, the minister added.
Image: Fishermen and a woman walk amidst debris of damaged houses after Cyclone Phailin hit Puri in Odisha
Photograph: Ahmad Masood/Reuters