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Phailin brings back memories of 1999 cyclone in this Odisha village

Last updated on: October 12, 2013 21:26 IST

Phailin brings back memories of 1999 cyclone

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As the sky turns overcast and torrential rains lash Odisha’s Erasama block, Pravati Maity of Jagatsinghpur district is haunted by the painful memories of the 1999 killer cyclone.

The widow from Ambiki village is getting prepared to face the possible strike of cyclone in the next few hours. She had her lost husband and 10-year-old son in the super cyclone.

For the people now shifted to the safety of cyclone shelters, school, college and panchayat office buildings, images of the cataclysmic super cyclone that impounded the state 14 years back continues to haunt them.

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Image: An aerial view of the cyclone-hit village of Ersama in Jagatsingpur district, many parts of which is still flooded, in Odisha in November 1999. The village was completely destroyed after the "super cyclone" hit the state on October 29
Photographs: Reuters

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Phailin brings back memories of 1999 cyclone

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Still settlers in vulnerable pockets are apparently determined to face the emergent situation with grit and determination. Perceptible fear has taken a firm grip in coastal Odisha as the government agencies are on high alert to cope with exigencies of the situation. Though apprehensive, people armed with preparedness are trying to cope with the situation.

All the seaside villages where the impact of cyclone is apprehended to be maximum have been deserted since early Saturday morning as villagers have moved to shelter houses.

"Wind speed is picking up every hour. Standing trees have already become causalities. People have left their houses with livestock," said Bijoy Shukla, former Sarpanch of Ramnagar gram panchyat.

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Image: Residents cover their noses to avoid the stench from the badly decomposed bodies and carcasses on the way to safe place in Ersama village after the 1999 cyclone
Photographs: Reuters

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Phailin brings back memories of 1999 cyclone

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People in these parts, which had withstood maximum brunt of 1999 cyclone, are not in a mood to take chances this time. Preparedness has gripped the seaside villages.      

About 9,885 people had perished as 20-foot-high tidal waves had left trails of devastation in seaside human settlements in Paradip, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara areas in 1999. The administration then was found wanting to counter the situation. People had also taken the cyclone warning lightly and had to pay a heavy price.

"Super cyclone had struck on 29-30 October, 1999 when the puja festivities were in full swing. We are not going to throw caution to the winds as we had done the last time. We will shift to safety on time," said Raghunath Rout, a resident of seaside Dahibara village.

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Image: vehicle is crushed under an uprooted tree on the road to Ersama village
Photographs: Reuters

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Phailin brings back memories of 1999 cyclone

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For the 52-year-old widow from Ambiki village, it is another tryst with nature. The survivor of cataclysmic 99-super-cyclone has, however, ignored precautionary warning this time.

The mindset of residents in seaside villages has undergone a change since the 1999 super cyclone.

The people in the past used to take the periodic strike of cyclone in their stride. But now it is a positive sign that each time the coastal areas come under depression, there are frantic queries from residents from far-off coastal hamlets.

"The administration has adequate stock of food items. It is ready to face the exigencies of the situation," Jagatsinghpur Collector Satya Kumar Mallick said.

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Image: Soilders distribute drinking water at a village hit by the cyclone in 1999
Photographs: Reuters

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Phailin brings back memories of 1999 cyclone

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Erasama Tehsildar Sarat Kumar Purohit said, “People in all the coastal pockets have been evacuated. This area had undergone considerable devastation in the past. Nearly 6,500 people had perished then. The administration is fully prepared to counter the exigent situation.”

“My parents asked me to procure extra ration. I bought edible oil, ration items, dry foods besides candles, torchlight. My family has adequate ration for at least 15 days,” said Dipti Prakash Pattnaik, a resident of Paradip port townhip.

In vulnerable spots like Satabhaya and Batighar in Kendrapara district, cyclone-weary villagers have moved a step ahead. They have voluntarily moved to the safety of multi-purpose cyclone shelters and panchayat office building since on Friday.


Image: A woman in Ersama village checks on what is left of her belongings after her hut was blown way by a cyclone at Jagatsingpur district
Photographs: Reuters

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