In 2013 October, when Cyclone Phailin hit Odisha!

  • | Thursday | 14th October, 2021


The nomenclature may be different and so does the time of occurrences but the footprints remain to remind us of a grevious injury which gets into the pages of history soon. It was cyclone Phailin in 2013 which ripped apart the fabrics of the regions in South Odisha with its eye on Gopalpur. 

In the forenoon of October 13, we started from the capital city Bhubaneswar for Gopalpur. It was windy all through the route and a strange sense of unease was swaying on as we drove through the phobia of an imminent invasion from nature in the build-up.

When we entered the office of the Collector, at Chhatrapur, we noticed the DM Dr. Kishan Kumar perched on his seat, restive yet warming up for the evening tryst. It was surprising to know that the young officer had made his office his home for the last three days without going to his official residence barely 500 mtrs away. 

Which obviously spoke about the preparedness by the district administration and the seriousness the cyclone Phailin was given. Monitored meticulously by the Chief Minister and his deputies, the pillars on the ground were seemingly showing the traits of not giving up as regards the target of zero casualty and minimal damage to property. 

A huge population of about one million were taken to the safer enclosures and a very resilient system was put in place through the deployment of ODRAF, NDRF, Central security forces besides scores of medical outlets. It was a challenge that the state government was aiming to tame through robust preparedness. En number of make-shift kitchens were opened at several locations to feed the people scattered over several areas. 

Two hours before the sunset the nature abandoned one of its ruthless manifestations and the entire population was left perplexed to see what the landfall unleashed. Lessons were many from the catastrophe that pulverized Odisha claiming the lives of over ten thousand people and an untold number of animals in 1999.

The evening the Phailin struck it was a low-key replay of 1999 yet no lesser threats to the waiting mass in shelter homes. Phailin did hit with a destructive fury but often attitude rocks. And that helped the situation and Odisha’s preparedness could defuse the ferocity of the post-landfall of Phailin without casualties. The state of Odisha which has since long remained a regular destination of oceanic invasions, on that day became unassailable which earned the government thumping applause from home and abroad. 

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