While over 1.1. million people have survived Cyclone Fani in the coastal belt of Odisha- the strongest tropical storm to hit India in over two decades- they have no food, drinking water, or even homes to go back to.
“The foremost worry of millions living in cyclone shelters is about basic necessities like food and drinking water,” said Santanu Mishra, Co-founder and executive trustee at Smile Foundation, India. “The cyclone damaged homes and schools, destroyed assets, infrastructure and everything else that existed in several villages along the coasts,” he said.
“Our teams from Smile Foundation are already on the ground distributing food and water among various other basic necessities to help these lives get back to normalcy,” said Mishra.
Despite the paralysis of core banking system due to limited electricity and internet connection among other challenges, social workers from Smile Foundation have started distributing basic supplies in districts of Khurda and Puri, starting Thursday.
In the coming weeks, Smile Foundation plans to provide immediate relief supplies to at least 10,000 families, including food supplies, drinking water, shelter (tarpaulins), sanitation and hygiene supplies, as well as solar lamps.
“The situation on the ground is extremely bad. There is no electricity, no internet, lots of damage to property. Farmlands, which are their primary source of income are completely damaged, people are mentally very disturbed,” said Uttam Datta, leading Smile Foundation’s Disaster Response Team.
“We are only focusing on providing them with the basics essentials at the moment, to help them cope with the loss. Actual rehabilitation and reconstruction work may take several months,” he said.
“We aim to reduce the adverse consequences of disaster on human lives and also bridge the gap between governments’ aided relief and immediate need on ground,” said Mishra.
“The first two cycles of our interventions will include rescue and rehabilitation, which means that we aim to keep our supply chain of basic relief material active. In the third phase, Smile Foundation would work with local village communities for restoration of health centers and schools including providing solutions for clean drinking,” he added.
Cyclone Fani, which has affected an estimated 3 million people in 10,000 villages and 52 urban agglomerations in around 11 districts, made its landfall at 9.30 am on May 3 in the coastal state of Odisha at a wind speed of 175 kmph.
The government evacuated over 1.1 million people from vulnerable districts to safer locations, saving countless lives. To date, the death toll stands at 41 people.
Smile Foundation teams are working closely with Government officials across districts to assess damage to lives, homes, schools, hospitals and other local buildings, as well as the impact on livelihoods in the districts of Puri, Khorda and Jagatsinghpur.
Smile Foundation is working to ensure that families are provided with all immediate support to help them get back to their usual lives and livelihood.
Notes to editors:
Smile Foundation has spokespersons available for interviews in New Delhi (Head office), and Odisha.
Jaya Shroff: Senior Communications Manager on +91 9818194294 or [email protected]
SMILE FOUNDATION’S EMERGENCY RESPONSE
Smile Foundation, with its welfare interventions focused on children and their families, responds to the call of humanity in times of such calamities under its Disaster Response programme. From the Kashmir earthquake in 2005, to the Uttarakhand floods in 2013 and the Kerala Floods in 2018, Smile Foundation has acted promptly to reach out and respond to the immediate needs of the disaster affected people, while maintaining a sustainable approach to help them rebuild their lives by facilitating their education, healthcare and livelihood. More than 100,000 families have benefited through SMILE Foundations Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction interventions. Some of the major interventions as a part of disaster response are highlighted below:
Uttrakhand Floods (2013): In April 2014, Smile conducted health check-up camps in villages through Static Health Clinics. The project delivered free curative, preventive and promotive health services in the flood hit-areas. Active in 23 villages of Block – Ukhimath of Rudraprayag district, the project had around 11,500 direct beneficiaries. Those diagnosed with diseases are provided effective treatment for free.
Chennai Floods (2015): Relief operations conducted in two phases: phase I was Intensive Relief Operations which was concluded and Phase II was Health Based Rehabilitation