(May 20, 2019 )
More than 10 million have been affected by the worst summer cyclone in the state in 43 years, according to government data
CHENNAI, India, May 20 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – From the safety of a relative’s house, Mohammed Tazmul Hussein watched coconut trees crashing onto the roof of his home as Cyclone Fani barrelled into eastern India.
Two weeks after the cyclone struck Odisha state on India’s east coast, travelling at 200 km (124 miles) an hour and forcing the evacuation of more than one million people, Hussein is struggling to pick up the pieces and rebuild his home.
As well as having no electricity, not enough clean drinking water and no tree cover, thousands like Hussein are now exposed to heatwave conditions with temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius.
“We live by the coast and have never had to bear the intensity of summer like those in western parts of the state,” Hussein, 53, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation over the phone from Bhagwanpur village near the temple town of Puri.
“But the cyclone took away all our shade giving trees and uprooted electricity poles. And with electricity yet to be restored, the heat is sapping. I feel helpless.”
Fourteen districts of Odisha felt the impact of Cyclone Fani on May 3. More than 10 million have been affected by the worst summer cyclone in the state in 43 years, according to government data.
Hussein’s house is one of the more than 500,000 that were damaged in the cyclone, that destroyed crops, contaminated water bodies and snapped communication and power lines.
“There are people who stood near the rubble, unable to recognise what was left of their homes,” said Tushar Kantidas, senior manager for disaster risk management with charity Plan India.
“People have lost everything and there is an urgency to rebuild, with food and shelter being a priority. But the rising temperatures have become the new challenge.”