At least eight people were killed in Odisha after cyclone Fani, the worst of its kind in India in two decades, tore through the state on Friday. Though the 'extremely severe' cyclone unexpectedly weakened into 'very severe' cyclonic storm in a few hours, it left behind a trail of devastation in large parts of coastal Odisha.
However, the damage could have been much worse had it not been for Odisha authorities who managed to evacuate a record 1.2 million or 12 lakh people in 24 hours to avert large scale devastation.
Braced for the worst after the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) declared Fani as a super cyclone earlier this week, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday claimed the state had carried out the "biggest human evacuation in history".
While several departments worked in tandem to manage the herculean rescue effort, the police department in the state has been getting a lot of appreciation for its dedicated and stellar service that saved the life of thousands.
A photograph of Superintendent of Police Pinak Mishra appealing to villagers living in vulnerable low-lying areas to shift to cyclone shelter house, in Brahmapur to evacuate their homes is proof of the immense determination of the cops to restrict the calamities.
To put things in perspective, the 1999 Super Cyclone in the previously called Orissa, which occurred exactly ten years ago killed, 10,000 people.
This time, authorities were prepared beforehand. As per a report in New York Times, 2.6 million text messages were sent to warn locals of the coming storm. 43,000 volunteers and over 1,000 additional workers were deployed along with advertisements on the television and radio. 16 additional The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams comprising of 45 personnel each have also been moved.
Another image that has been going viral on social media is the photo of a woman cop driving a scooter with two women riding pillion behind her. The cop belongs to the Talchua Police Station in Kendrapara. The photo was tweeted by Orissa Police and captured the spirit of the police who ensured that no one was left behind.
In action: Lady Police officer of Talchua Police Station, Kendrapara !!
Braving all odds and adversaries, our officers are making all the possible efforts to evacuate each single person to the safety. #MissionZeroCasualty#CycloneFani #OdishaPrepared4Fani pic.twitter.com/jbHRUYauRy— Odisha Police (@odisha_police) May 2, 2019
On Saturday, Chief Minister Navin Pattnaik put up a post on Twitter, asking for the nation to contribute to ward the rebuilding of Orissa. He posted a link to a relief fund account set up by the government.
#Odisha has been devastated by #CycloneFani. Please help rebuild precious lives with your online contribution to Chief Minister Relief Fund via link: https://t.co/C2LrUttIsr pic.twitter.com/gtEb9viHk2— Naveen Patnaik (@Naveen_Odisha) May 4, 2019
We will stand by #Odisha This is a national cause. Just as the state showed exemplary disaster management let’s show how India stands together. With millions of small and large donations .. @Naveen_Odisha https://t.co/EQ8QgwT7Rp— anand mahindra (@anandmahindra) May 5, 2019
This is not the first time that the Odisha government has been praised for its preparedness in the face of cyclonic adversities. The state's disaster management model got praised by the UN after it successfully restricted fatalities to 21 during the 2013 Phailin cyclone.
Odisha Police continued to tweet more images of police personnel conducting evacuation missions, providing aid to evacuees and helping with rescue operations across the state. Officers were especially sensitive with elderly evacuees who needed more assistance and care.
As per the instructions of @DGPOdisha Evacuation drive in Ganjam continues!May 2, 2019
Visuals from Kendrapara where our officers are carrying infants and guiding children, women, and other locals to safety.May 3, 2019
The department even shared images of food distribution being carried out by Balasore's SP and his team among evacuees residing in shelters in the area.
Free cooked food for people residing in cyclone shelters at Balasore! Arrangements done by SP Balasore and his team. pic.twitter.com/nrBWcoKRUR— Odisha Police (@odisha_police) May 3, 2019
The Indian Navy also launched multi-pronged rescue operations to manage the great evacuation.
Odisha has witnessed seven major cyclones in the last 50 years. In October 1971, the district of Balasore was hit by a cyclonic storm that claimed more than 10,000 lives and about 10 lakh people were rendered homeless. Much of the progress made since the 1999 calamity is owed to the immediate construction of cyclone shelters along the turbulent eastern coastline.
However, Phailin left about 1.3 crore persons affected. Fatalities have been prevented but the storm has caused severe damage to property. The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) reviewed the damage on Saturday and said that the cyclone had caused extensive damager to telecommunication and power infrastructure, PTI reported. In Puri district and parts of Khurda, electricity infrastructure has been totally devastated. According to a statemnt by Pattnaik, the government would have to set up the entire electrification afresh.
However, preparedness and lessons from previous cyclones helped the state keep human fatalities at minimal. Netizens were full of cheer for the services of the cops.
I am proud of my @odisha_police . Indeed a force to reckon at the time of need. More power to Brave Girl. God bless. @DGPOdisha @Naveen_Odisha @CMO_Odisha @aajtak @ndtv @rajnathsingh https://t.co/tgc9SMuJGA— Sandeep Dasmohapatra (@GoodmrgIndia) May 2, 2019
Many of time we fight, argue, blame with police personnel but when there is any tragic they stand with us each and every time. They have also families but duty comes first for them. I salute all police personnel. Without you we are nothing. Be with us always. Jai Hind.🙏🙏🙏— Deba Prasad RTI Activist (@DPS_RTI) May 2, 2019
My heart goes out to all those affected by cyclone Fani. But it’s also a time to salute our met dept & the Odisha Govt. for setting an example for the world in disaster management. In particular they have shown how to use technology to save lives. https://t.co/IMezG1t9kH— anand mahindra (@anandmahindra) May 4, 2019