A helping hand in the time of natural calamities

GDRF volunteers don a variety of roles, including search and rescue, first aid and evacuation

May 06, 2019 08:14 am | Updated 08:14 am IST - BERHAMPUR

People walk past damaged trees following Cyclone Fani in Puri district in the eastern state of Odisha, India, May 4, 2019. REUTERS/R. Narendra NO ARCHIVES. NO RESALES.

People walk past damaged trees following Cyclone Fani in Puri district in the eastern state of Odisha, India, May 4, 2019. REUTERS/R. Narendra NO ARCHIVES. NO RESALES.

The Ganjam District Disaster Response Forum (GDRF), a joint front of 47 NGOs, continues to be a major relief force during natural calamities,like the recent cyclone Fani, in this district of Odisha.

The GDRF now has reach in all the 22 blocks of Ganjam district. Their volunteers have direct contact with people living in remote and vulnerable areas. They help the administration in evacuation of people to safe places before any cyclone. “We coordinate between the people and the administration to ensure basic amenities at cyclone shelters”, said convenor of GDRF, Mangaraj Panda.

Since 2015, the GDRF has trained up over 400 volunteers in 27 villages that are prone to cyclones and floods. According one of the trained volunteers, Rabindra Das of Badapalli village of Ganjam block, they know basic skills of search and rescue as well as first aid for immediate attention in case of need.

These volunteers are also trained to report about losses to the local revenue officials. In most cyclone prone coastal villages, literacy rate is low and inhabitants find it hard to report their losses to administration.

Members of the GDRF also reach the vulnerable villages near the coast to urge fishermen and their families to leave their dwellings and shift to cyclone shelters. “Volunteers of GDRF look after the well being of the people at cyclone shelters”, said Loknath Mishra, co-convenor of GDRF.

Members of the GDRF also monitor cyclone preparedness in slums of Berhampur city.

GDRF had arranged its own dry food stock and was ready to reach out to affected people immediately if any major devastation would have occurred in any part of Ganjam district due to Cyclone Fani.

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