Indians say cyclone evacuation kept them alive - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Indians say cyclone evacuation kept them alive

Posted:

PODAMPETTA, India (AP) - Agya Amma's house in this seaside village was flattened by the cyclone that roared in from the Bay of Bengal with torrential rains and winds topping 200 kilometers (131 miles) per hour. But the fact that she was still here on Monday, surveying the pile of twisted wood and shredded thatch that had been her home, was proof that this was a different kind of disaster for India.

Unlike past storms that have lashed India's eastern coast, Cyclone Phailin did not extract a heavy human toll, thanks to a massive and improbable evacuation effort that effectively moved nearly 1 million residents of one of India's poorest regions out of the storm's path and into government shelters.

By Monday, only 25 people had been reported killed, even though tens of thousands of homes were destroyed. The successful evacuation effort was earning rare praise for a country known for large-scale disasters that have caused high death tolls. In 1999, a cyclone that struck the same coast killed about 10,000 people, while more than 6,000 were killed in June by flooding and mudslides in another Indian state, Uttarakhand.

"If we had stayed here, everyone in the village would be dead," said Amma, a 55-year-old fisherwoman. "I consider myself lucky to be alive."

Despite the comparatively low number of deaths, Phailin still dealt its share of misery, as hundreds of thousands of coastal residents found themselves huddling in shelters, their homes flattened and crops destroyed by the most powerful storm to hit India in more than a decade.

At least four days before the cyclone hit, police in the coastal states of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh began traveling through villages to warn residents of the coming storm and urge them to go to government shelters set up in schools and other concrete buildings.

While a few chose to ignore the warnings or stay home to guard their belongings, many had lived through the cyclone 14 years ago that killed 10,000.

By Friday, the day before the cyclone hit land, hundreds of thousands of people had moved inland. Amma and others from her tiny village of Podampetta walked 1.5 kilometers (a mile) to the nearest shelter and spent two nights waiting out the storm.

On Monday, residents ventured out to see the destruction, and many of them learned that they had lost everything.

"There is nothing to eat, no place for me to stay," said Buchi Amma, 50, another Podampetta villager not related to Agya Amma. She said she had no idea how she and her husband would be able to buy food.

"I only want life to get back to normal," she said, standing atop the concrete slabs of her shattered home.

A lake the size of a football field, formed when sea water surged ashore, cut across the main road out of Podampetta.

For the tens of thousands made homeless, authorities were distributing tarps so people could build makeshift shelters, state police official M.N. Rao said.

"Relief centers have been opened, and food is being supplied to the people, both dry rations as well as cooked food when possible," he said.

Officials worked Monday to clear roads and restore communications. Train services were being restarted.

The death toll of 25 was expected to rise as officials reach isolated areas along the cyclone-battered coast, and parts of Orissa were still facing massive flooding after heavy rains brought by the cyclone caused rivers to overflow.

Hundreds of thousands of people were marooned Monday in the district of Balasore, where the situation "is critical," according to P.K. Mohapatra, the state's head of relief operations. Authorities were air-dropping packages of food in the area, while army personnel and speed boats were deployed to help with rescue and relief operations.

The Indian coast guard rescued 17 sailors whose cargo ship, the MV Bingo, sank during the cyclone, officials said. They were taken to a hospital in Kolkata for a check-up and are safe now, coast guard Commandant Rajendra Nath told the Press Trust of India news agency.

Meanwhile, the weakened storm was moving north Monday over the state of Bihar toward the Himalayan state of Sikkim, which was bracing for heavy rains.

The Indian Ocean is a cyclone hot spot. Of the 35 deadliest storms in recorded history, 27 have come through the Bay of Bengal - including the 1999 cyclone - and have landed in either India or Bangladesh.

  • NEWSMore>>

  • Persons of Interest Sought in Triple Shooting

    Persons of Interest Sought in Triple Shooting

    Beckley (WVVA) -- Police now say they have persons of interest after a triple shooting in Beckley...More >>
    Beckley (WVVA) -- Police now say they have persons of interest after a triple shooting in Beckley...More >>
  • Two people are dead following a fatal car crash in McDowell County

    Two people are dead following a fatal car crash in McDowell County

    MAYBEURY (WVVA)- According to Trooper J.C. Mann with the WV State Police, Welch Detachment two people died in a car accident around 4:00 A.M.on Sunday.It happened in Maybeury, McDowell Co.Trooper Mann says three people were in a 2009 Cadillac CTS driving on Powerhouse Road off of Route 52. The driver, Raheem Bons and one passenger, Lauren Perdue were both found dead on the scene. A second passenger, Markese London sustained minor injuries. He was taken to BRMC and has since been released. Tro...More >>
    MAYBEURY (WVVA)- According to Trooper J.C. Mann with the WV State Police, Welch Detachment two people died in a car accident around 4:00 A.M.on Sunday.It happened in Maybeury, McDowell Co.Trooper Mann says three people were in a 2009 Cadillac CTS driving on Powerhouse Road off of Route 52. The driver, Raheem Bons and one passenger, Lauren Perdue were both found dead on the scene. A second passenger, Markese London sustained minor injuries. He was taken to BRMC and has since been released. Tro...More >>
  • Three Teens are Missing in Fayette County

    Three Teens are Missing in Fayette County

    FAYETTE COUNTY (WVVA)-Multiple law enforcement agencies are searching for three missing teenagers. According to Fayette Co. 911 dispatch the kids went missing in the early afternoon on Sunday. They were last seen on Cunard Rd. between Fayetteville and Oakhill. If you have any information on their whereabouts you are asked to call Fayette County Emergency Services.More >>
    FAYETTE COUNTY (WVVA)-Multiple law enforcement agencies are searching for three missing teenagers. According to Fayette Co. 911 dispatch the kids went missing in the early afternoon on Sunday. They were last seen on Cunard Rd. between Fayetteville and Oakhill. If you have any information on their whereabouts you are asked to call Fayette County Emergency Services.More >>
  • Glen White Man Charged with First Degree Murder

    Glen White Man Charged with First Degree Murder

    GLEN WHITE (WVVA)- Joe Collins, 67 of Glen White, WV is facing a felony murder charge after Raleigh County Sheriff's Deputies say he shot and killed a man.According to the criminal complaint it happened early on Sunday morning.The victim is Larry Totten. The complaint continues to state that Totten demanded Collins leave his home on Glenview Rd. in Glen White.Collins left the home, got the gun and then shot Totten. He is being held in Southern Regional Jail.More >>
    GLEN WHITE (WVVA)- Joe Collins, 67 of Glen White, WV is facing a felony murder charge after Raleigh County Sheriff's Deputies say he shot and killed a man.According to the criminal complaint it happened early on Sunday morning.The victim is Larry Totten. The complaint continues to state that Totten demanded Collins leave his home on Glenview Rd. in Glen White.Collins left the home, got the gun and then shot Totten. He is being held in Southern Regional Jail.More >>
  • Highway dedicated to fallen soldier

    Highway dedicated to fallen soldier

    HINTON, WV (WVVA) -On October 23, 1983 more than 200 American soldiers lost their lives in a bombing in Beirut, Lebanon."A terrorist drove a truck laden with 20,000 pounds of propane gas which killed 220 marines, 18 sailors, and 3 army soldiers...More >>
    HINTON, WV (WVVA) -On October 23, 1983 more than 200 American soldiers lost their lives in a bombing in Beirut, Lebanon."A terrorist drove a truck laden with 20,000 pounds of propane gas which killed 220 marines, 18 sailors, and 3 army soldiers...More >>
  • Deputies looking for two men for crimes in two counties

    Deputies looking for two men for crimes in two counties

    (WVVA) - Robert Goff, 30, of Meadow Bridge is accused of multiple crimes including stealing a truck, breaking and entering and fleeing law enforcement within Greenbrier and Summers Counties.Deputies say he had help. They're looking for Alexander Riley, 20, and Phillip Riley, 27 -- they say the men started a crime spree early this morning...And were caught on camera at J-Rods auto repair shop in Hilldale, WV.We got an image of a person walking to the store, they seen the camera, turned and wal...More >>
    (WVVA) - Robert Goff, 30, of Meadow Bridge is accused of multiple crimes including stealing a truck, breaking and entering and fleeing law enforcement within Greenbrier and Summers Counties.Deputies say he had help. They're looking for Alexander Riley, 20, and Phillip Riley, 27 -- they say the men started a crime spree early this morning...And were caught on camera at J-Rods auto repair shop in Hilldale, WV.We got an image of a person walking to the store, they seen the camera, turned and wal...More >>
  • UPDATE: Virginia State Police have located missing senior

    UPDATE: Virginia State Police have located missing senior

    FREDERICK CO. (WVVA)- The Virginia State Police have issued a senior alert on behalf of the Frederick County Sheriff's Office.According to a press release, Frederick Sheriff's Deputies are searching for Sandra Lee Starr, 72. Starr was last seen on August 29, 2014 at Hilltop House Assisted Living Center in Frederick County. She is said to be 5'4", weighing 100 lbs, with blue eyes and gray hair.The press release states, "The missing senior suffers from a cognitive impairment and the disappearan...More >>
    FREDERICK CO. (WVVA)- The Virginia State Police have issued a senior alert on behalf of the Frederick County Sheriff's Office.According to a press release, Frederick Sheriff's Deputies are searching for Sandra Lee Starr, 72. Starr was last seen on August 29, 2014 at Hilltop House Assisted Living Center in Frederick County. She is said to be 5'4", weighing 100 lbs, with blue eyes and gray hair.The press release states, "The missing senior suffers from a cognitive impairment and the disappearan...More >>
  • Suicide Prevention Walk Scheduled for This Week

    Suicide Prevention Walk Scheduled for This Week

    BLUEFIELD (WVVA)- The 5th annual Out of the Darkness Walk is scheduled for September 6, 2014 in Bluefield, WV. Out of the Darkness is an organization that devotes their time to suicide prevention, awareness and education.It is free to register. Registration will be on the day of the event from 5:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. There will be entertainment until the walk begins at 6:30 p.m.More >>
    BLUEFIELD (WVVA)- The 5th annual Out of the Darkness Walk is scheduled for September 6, 2014 in Bluefield, WV. Out of the Darkness is an organization that devotes their time to suicide prevention, awareness and education.It is free to register. Registration will be on the day of the event from 5:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. There will be entertainment until the walk begins at 6:30 p.m.More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WVVA.
All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, Terms of Service and Mobile Privacy Policy & Terms of Service.

Persons with disabilities who need assistance with issues relating to the content of this station's public inspection file should contact Administrative Assistant Audrey Sluss at (304) 324-0659. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, at 888-835-5322 (TTY) or at fccinfo@fcc.gov.