Severe cyclonic storm crosses the Odisha coast at Gopalpur
Severe cyclonic storm Phailin left behind a trail of devastation on the south Odisha coast, making the city of Berhampur look like a war zone on Saturday evening. It claimed two lives in Ganjam district when it crossed the coast at Gopalpur around 6.30 p.m.
Heavy rain with wind reaching a speed of 120 to 150 kmph triggered devastation. Fallen trees, uprooted electric poles and broken walls were seen at various places in Berhampur. Walls of the City Women’s College and the SBI main branch were broken. Durga mandaps put up as part of Dasara festivities fell flat near the Old Bus Stand and Khollikote College. The Rushikulya and Bahuda rivers were in spate as the government directed officials to undertake relief and rescue work a war-footing.
The situation was grim in the city. All shops, hotels, ATMs and banks were shut down. Public transport came to a standstill with the suspension of bus and train services. The streets wore a deserted look as fear-stricken people stayed indoors.
“Several trees are uprooted, communication facilities are getting affected. We cleared two huge trees in the evening, which cut off Gopalpur from the rest of the State by rushing tree-cutting teams,” DIG of Police Amitabh Thakur told The Hindu .
An estimated 1.40 lakh people were evacuated from low-lying areas to cyclone shelters and relief camps. “I have not seen such mighty tidal waves in my life. The sea has turned red. With bated breath, we are praying Lord Jagannath to save our life and properties,” said H.C. Behera, head clerk at the Government Science College, Chhatrapur.
Fishermen and locals were forcibly shifted to the relief camps. Most of them were reluctant to leave their homes and belongings. “We are safe here though we have to forego our sleep for second night due to fear and tension,” said Suhashini Behera, a farm worker, who took shelter at a relief camp at Chikiti.
Hundreds of fishermen from Gopalpur, Baxipalli, Venkatapur, Haripur, Bandar and other hamlets were provided accommodation at cyclone shelters and relief camps from Friday evening. Accommodation was provided for 1,000 people at a relief camp opened at a college hostel run by Tata Steel near Bhanjabihar. However, only 200 people preferred to shift there. Coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh, barring Srikakulam and north coastal districts, escaped the fury of the cyclone as it hit Gopalpur.