accessibility & help

Cyclone survivors face winter without work or shelter

13 December 2013

More than a month after Cyclone Phailin caused devastation in India, people affected by the disaster are still living under tarpaulins and upturned boats.

October’s cyclone affected about 12 million people in the north east of the country, and destroyed and damaged about 250,000 homes. Forty-six people were killed.

In the wake of the disaster the Indian Red Cross Society gave people affected vital supplies including clothes, mosquito nets, kitchen equipment and blankets. It also set up water treatment units to cut the risk of disease. The British Red Cross India Cyclone Appeal is raising money for the relief effort.

While relatively few people were killed in the disaster, thanks in part to cyclone shelters built by the Red Cross, hundreds of thousands are still in urgent need of help.

Unsafe homes

After a visit to the Orissa region, British Red Cross aid worker Kenny Hamilton said the cyclone had left people living in unsafe, makeshift homes with no way of making money.

Kenny said: “What was striking was the impact the cyclone had on the poorest people in these communities. Some had been living in very basic huts, made of mud and sticks. Most of these were completely destroyed.  More than a month on people are still living under plastic tarpaulins, boats and makeshift shelters.

“Security is a big issue. People can’t lock their homes or secure their belongings, so they are scared to leave their community.”

Crops fields and fishing boats destroyed

Kenny said many paddy fields had also been completely destroyed. In many cases, sea water had flooded into them – ruining the current rice crop and meaning they will need to be flushed clean of salt water before they can be used again. The fields are a vital source of food and employment for local people.

Fishing boats were also wrecked. Their owners face a long wait for compensation – which will almost certainly be far less than the value of the boats.

In the months ahead, the Indian Red Cross Society will continue to give out essential supplies and help people rebuild their homes and livelihoods.

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