Several thousand people were evacuated from low-lying areas, standing crops in a few lakh acres were marooned and coconut trees and electric poles were uprooted in the three coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh as the severe cyclonic storm Helen made a landfall near Machilipatnam on Friday afternoon.

Even after landfall, the system was expected to maintain the intensity of cyclonic storm for six hours and gradually weaken into a deep depression in subsequent six hours, while moving westwards across coastal Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Under its influence, rainfall will occur at most places with heavy to very heavy falls at isolated places over Telangana during the next 48 hours

Gale and wind speed reaching 50-60 kmph would also prevail for six hours after landfall and equally squally wind speed reaching 50-60 kmph for subsequent six hours over coastal AP and Telangana around 100 from the system’s centre.

The whereabouts of 32 fishermen who ventured into the sea a couple of days ago were not known even as normal life was thrown out of gear, mostly in East Godavari, which bore the brunt. The cyclonic storm caused extensive devastation in eight of the 16 mandals in Amalapuram revenue division, which was plunged into darkness since last night. As many as 67 electric poles were uprooted and 20 transformers were burnt due to short circuit caused by lightning.

Two teams of National Disaster Response Force were pressed into service to evacuate people from low-lying areas. Hundreds of coconut trees were uprooted and nearly 200 houses were damaged in the affected mandals.

A fishermen who swam to get hold of his boat after it away in the sea was drowned off Yanam.

Our Kakinada Staff Reporter reports:

Life was thrown out of gear in several parts of East Godavari district on Friday as the impact of cyclone Helen was felt all over. Heavy rain coupled with gales continued to hit the district from the early hours of the day, uprooting trees and roofs of the huts along the coast. The district administration is chalking out plans to open relief camps.

In view of the gales, the officials stopped the power supply from early hours, which had its cascading effect on the communication system. Uprooting of trees had its impact on the transportation. A holiday was declared to all the educational institutions and people did not dare to move out of their houses due to the rain and gales. As per the preliminary information, Konaseema region was the worst hit in the district. Two teams from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were waiting to swing into action in Amalapuram and Razole.

In Kakinada, the Uppada beach road had been closed for vehicular traffic. As many as 32 fishermen ventured into the sea for fishing a couple of days ago did not return to the shore. People residing near the sea were in the grip of fear as there was high-tides in the sea. The district officials were on the task of opening relief camps on a war-footing and ensure rehabilitation to people residing in the low-lying areas. “The entire administration is geared up to provide relief to the affected persons,” said B. Yadagiri, District Revenue Officer.

The situation was more or less same in the Union Enclave Yanam, where trees were uprooted and the power supply was off.

Our Eluru Special Correspondent reports:

Helen, a severe cyclonic storm which hit the coast 20km off Narsapur, sent people into jitters in West Godavari district on Friday. The people in Narsapur and Mogaltur mandals felt the first impact. The rough sea looked fiery for the fishermen tenaments located close to the sea such as Perubalem and K.P Palem.

Although there were no signs of the sea incursion yet, high-rise tides frightened the inhabitants.

Heavy gales with a speed ranging 60-80km were experienced in these areas. Trees were uprooted and electric poles got twisted in Mogaltur, Naraspur and Palacol areas with the impact of the high-velocity gales. The Eastern Power Distribution Company Limited (EPDCL) authorities suspended power supply as a precautionary measure. Traffic movement was obstructed on the Palacol-Narsapur and Narsapur-Mogaltur roads due to uprooting of trees.

Electric cutters were engaged to remove the tree logs and clear the traffic in these areas. Sarugudu and coconut plantations in large numbers were reportedly uprooted in K.P Palem and Perubalem villages on the coast.

Collector Siddharth Jain, who was camping at Narsapur to oversee the relief and rescue operations, said a large number of people from 17 villages prone to cyclone in Narsapur and Mogaltur mandals were evacuated and placed at the relief camps in Narsapur town. A helicopter being kept standby to airlift people from the vulnerable areas, if situation warrants.