More than a million people were evacuated in India before
Cyclone Fani made landfall this weekend, bringing with it gusts of up to 43
miles per hour and submerging at least 36 villages along the coast.
In Puri, the town where Fani made landfall, storm surges and
winds up to 125 mph damaged power lines, uprooted trees, and blew off roofs. Fani
is one the strongest cyclones to hit India in the past 20 years.
“There has been massive, massive damage here…but fortunately,
thanks to the people who forecasted this and told us the minute-to-minute
movement of the cyclone, the government has been able to evacuate 1.2 million
people,” said Arun Borthra, inspector general of Orissa police, to the BBC.
By Thursday, 2 May, 30 percent of targeted evacuees had been
moved to safer places while the storm approached. All doctors’ and health
officials’ leave was cancelled through 15 May, and all police personnel were
asked to immediately report for duty in preparation for the storm and its
aftermath, NDTV reported.
According to the BBC, at least 16 people were killed by the
storm when it hit India on 3 May, but the loss of life could have been much
worse without the preemptive evacuations. In 1999, a super-cyclone killed
10,000 people along the coast of the northeastern Indian state of Orissa (also known as Odisha).
The next phase of returning residents to their
homes has already started, and the restoration process is underway.
Read more about the importance of preparedness in Security Management's September 2018 article on emergency and crisis management plans. For more on hurricane and flooding preparedness, check out our forthcoming June edition, which will highlight lessons learned from Hurricane Harvey.