Cyclone Phailin left as many people homeless as Hurricane Katrina

by Christian Aid | caid_newswire | Christian Aid - UK
Thursday, 24 October 2013 14:50 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Cyclone Phailin, which hit the east coast of India last week, has left more than one million people homeless, causing destruction on the scale of Hurricane Katrina, says Christian Aid.

With more heavy rains threatening the state of Odisha over the next few days, those who have returned to what remains of their homes now have nowhere to shelter.

Roads to remote areas have already been destroyed, making it difficult to reach people in need, and further rains will increase this inaccessibility.

Cyclone Phailin has affected an estimated 14 million people, and more than 300,000 hectares of land have been destroyed, washing away harvest-ready crops and creating uncertainty as winter approaches and food supplies become scarce.

With a substantial number of people living in the state relying on the harvest to earn a living and feed their families, the cyclone will affect poor communities’ ability to survive the next few months.

Yeeshu Shukla, Christian Aid Emergency Officer, said: 'The successful evacuation plan that saw NGOs, such as ourselves, working alongside the communities and the Government saved the lives of many thousands of people. But the irony is that the fact that so few lives were lost has resulted in very little media coverage of this huge disaster, unlike Hurricane Katrina which dominated the news agenda around the world for months.

‘The affected areas have seen huge damage to infrastructure and more than one million people have lost their homes and businesses. They now face further bad weather and an uncertain future with no roof over their heads and no means to earn a living. In addition there’s also a high risk of illness, especially diarrhoea, as a consequence of contaminated water supplies, which could cause deaths, especially amongst the young and old.

‘Approximately 100,000 people still remain in school-based shelters, but these will close this week as children return to school, forcing many people to go back to their devastated villages.’

Christian Aid local partner organisations are working hard to provide food for 13,000 people in the next two weeks. Tarpaulin for shelter and hygiene kits containing toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap and women’s sanitary products are also being distributed to a target of 15,000 people.

Mr Shukla continues: 'We need to help those who lost everything to earn an income, so we will be providing fishing boats and nets, as well as seeds to sew new crops once the flooding has subsided. We will also support poor communities to rebuild their homes in a way that will make them more able to withstand future cyclones to try and better protect their families and possessions.’

In order to carry out this vital humanitarian work Christian Aid urgently needs more funds for its Cyclone Philian appeal. To donate visit