Truncated trees, twisted electric poles, the flattened paddy crop and huge hoardings bore the tell-tale signs of the devastation caused by cyclone Helen which crossed the coast on Friday.

Tiled rooftops were blown away in fishermen habitations, according to reports.

Two persons -- the Penumantra Tehisildar G. Satyanarayana (52) and Bhaskara Rao (62), a resident of Perubalem -- were killed in separate incidents. The Tehisildar, who was driving to his office from his native Batlamogalturu, was reportedly crushed to death when a tree fell on his car.

Several villages in Palacol, Yalamanchili, Narsapur and Mogaltur plunged into darkness for well over 24 hours since last midnight. APSRTC suspended services from Narsapur to Rajahmundry, Nidadavole, Doddipatla, Pedamainavanilanka and from Bhimavaram to coastal habitations such as Matsyapuri, Varlagonditippa and Gollapalem.

Collector Siddharth Jain, who was camping at Narsapur overseeing rescue and relief operations, told The Hindu that there were reports of trees getting uprooted at 47 places in the Narsapur revenue division. Traffic was restored on the Palacol-Narsapur National Highway and the other State highways within six hours by pressing into service gas cutters and earthmovers.

Paddy worst hit

Gales with a speed ranging beyond 80kmph caused heavy damage to fruit-bearing plantations such as coconut and mango in Pedamainavanilanka, Chinaminavanilanka, Perubalem and K.P. Palem in Narsapur and Mogaltur mandals. Paddy was the worst hit much chagrin of the growers. “The threat is not over with regard to paddy as there is likelihood of heavy rainfall in the next 48 hours,” the Collector added.

NDRF swings into action

Guntur staff reporters writes: The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has deputed 10 teams in the State to take up rescue operations in ‘Helen’ cyclone affected mandals, said NDRF Commandant Prashant Dar.

Mr. Dar said that four teams had been deputed in East Godavari, three teams sent to Krishna, two to West Godavari and one to Guntur district. Instructions had been given to the NDRF teams to be in constant touch with the District Collectors and officials of other departments and take up evacuation process to prevent human loss.

Besides, two teams were kept standby at Mangalagiri in Guntur district, the headquarters of NDRF.

The reserved NDRF personnel would be sent to affected areas in emergency, he added.