Trees uprooted, houses, roads damaged; power, communication disrupted

Hundreds of trees were uprooted and many houses damaged as cyclone Helen is heading for the coast between Machilipatnam and Narasapuram in Andhra Pradesh on Friday afternoon.

There is no power supply in 12 out of 16 revenue mandals in the Amalapuram Revenue Division. Government officials are on their toes to shift people from low lying areas since the early hours.

The people of Konaseema region fear that Helen might bring damage similar to that of a severe storm that hit the coast in 1996. Wind speeds from Thursday midnight ranged between 100-120 kmph in the coastal areas. All main roads were closed as large trees fell across the roads.

“It was highly difficult for me to reach Amalapuram even though I have support staff and police to clear the route,” said East Godavari district Collector Neetu Prasad, who is camping in Amalapuram since 5.30 a.m. to monitor rescue works.

Two National Disaster Rescue Forces (NDRF) teams have been pressed into service to evacuate people from low lying areas of Katrenikona, Sakhinetipalli and Malikipuram. The mandals which are likely to be hit are Tondangi, Uppada, Uppalaguptam, I. Polavaram, Allavaram, Mamidikuduru, Malikipuram, Sakhinetipalli, Katrenikona, P. Gannavaram and Tallarevu.

Revenue, police, AP Transco and Roads and Buildings officials were asked to give top priority to people's safety before clearing roads on war footing.

Police help have been sought in some villages to evacuate fishermen who have refused to shift to cyclone relief centres.