Many victims recall their terrible experiences on the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday

When rainwater gushed with lightning speed and flooded a cement and iron godown, Bijoy Kumar Bisoi, a driver, thought his life had come to an end.

“We thought we will not have any threat when the severe cyclonic storm hit Gopalpur coast on Saturday night. After we experienced winds reaching a speed of 200 kmph we were taken aback. The godown was flooded at 4 a.m. on Sunday,” he told The Hindu recalling his nightmarish experience after cyclone Phailin crossed the coast. Bisoi and 14 others were put up in the godown owned by Sahu brothers. All the 10 lorries and a weigh bridge in it were submerged.

After some time, Bisoi and others saved themselves by wading in neck-deep water and coming out of the godown located at Khajuria on the outskirts of Berhampur. “It was escape by a hair’s breadth for all of us. Lord Jagannath saved us. Later we walked to our owner’s office at Gosha Nivao – a distance of 1.5 km braving that winds that were generating sound like an aeroplane,” said Hadu Nayak, a helper. The survivors said unlike the 1999 super cyclone, Phailin continued its havoc from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. with ferocious winds and non-stop rain. Mr. Nayak said they had to cross about 50 uprooted trees for reaching the owner’s house.

Temple saved them

For the 50-odd people who settled at Lanjipalle — on the bypass road of Berhampur – a temple came to their rescue. “With no officials coming forward to evacuate us to a safer place we took shelter at the nearby Iskcon temple,” said Prafulla Sahu, a petty scrap picker. He, along with others, who migrated from Nayagarh, put up huts in the area. The roofs of all the 15 huts were blown away by heavy rain accompanied by strong, stormy winds on the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday. “We lost all our belongings and cattle in the devastation caused by Phailin. However, god was kind enough to give us a fresh lease of life after we had spent a sleepless night at the temple,” Prameela Das, a housewife said. Niren Kumar Panda, whose house was completely destroyed, says succour from the government is yet to reach him.

At a low-lying area near Lanjipalle, all the houses and vehicles were submerged. The survivors were seen sitting on the rooftop of a house anxiously looking for help. Revenue officials later rescued them.

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