This Article is From Oct 12, 2014

In Odisha, Cyclone Phailin Survivors say Hudhud Can't be Worse

In Odisha, Cyclone Phailin Survivors say Hudhud Can't be Worse

The fishermen in Ganjam refused to be evacuated.

Ganjam, Odisha: Cyclone Hudhud has brought heavy rain and strong winds to Odisha. But in Ganjam, those who weathered the worst of Cyclone Phailin last year, are thanking their stars. Hudhud comes nowhere near, they say.

A detailed assessment of the losses will only come in by tomorrow, but the initial picture is rather encouraging, say locals.

While a huge thrust for evacuation by the Odisha government last year had kept the loss of lives at a minimum, property damage was extensive. Power and communication lines, ports, roads, houses - everything had taken a huge hit.

Ganjam had been one of the worst hit districts - the eye of the cyclone had passed near Gopalpur. Around 2.5 lakh homes had been destroyed across the coastal district.

But this time, the local fisherfolk put up a stiff resistance to evacuation. Their logic - if they could withstand Phailin last year, this year would be much easier.

At Ganjam's Chota Arya Palli village, bang on the coast near the Gopalpur port, a group of fishermen sat next to the sea and said they would not move, come what may. Their boats anchored firmly on the beach, the men said they were adopting a wait and watch policy.

Satish, one of the fishermen, said, "Last year, the wind speeds were 200 km per hour and more. This time it is just 80 to 90 km per hour. We would rather stay here and watch over our boats".

But 10 km away, at the tourist hub of Gopalpur-on-sea, the picture was rather different. Electricity was cut, police asked tourists to leave and the town wore a deserted look.

At one of the most popular resorts in the town, manager Pratap Jena and four other workers said they had no option but to hang on and look after the property. Last year, their hotel bore the brunt of Phailin as it made a landfall on the coast in front of their hotel.

This year, Pratap said, was not that bad. "I think it is the grace of god. My family is very worried. They want to come and join me but obviously I can't ask them to come."

The state government had evacuated over 60,000 people over five coastal districts. Many of them would be living at the relief centres for the next few days.