On 20 May 2020, Cyclone Amphan made landfall near Jammu Island, West Bengal at 5.00 pm BST with 130-140 km/h wind speed. 26 people lost their lives and that 7 people were injured due to falling of trees, boat capsizes, wall collapses and drowning. The cyclone affected 10 million vulnerable people in 19 districts.
According to preliminary reports collected by the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief (MoDMR), 330,667 houses were damaged including 55,667 totally destroyed in nine (9) most impacted districts: Khulna, Satkhira, Barguna, Bhola, Patuakhali, Pirojpur, Noakhali, Bagerhat and Jessore. The cyclone led to the internal displacement of 100,000 persons.
While national authorities are measuring the full scale of the damages, early reports inform that Cyclone Amphan created damages worth US$ 130 million. It includes damage to the electricity network, schools (2,000), bridges and culverts (200), embankments (150 kilometers), roads (1,100 kilometers), sources of drinking water (220), local administration and community infrastructures.
The Government of Bangladesh took all possible precaution to limit the loss of lives and livelihoods in anticipation of the cyclone. The National Disaster Management Committee (NDMC) led by the Honorable Prime Minister provided the policy and strategic guidance towards disaster risk reduction and emergency response efforts.
National authorities ordered the evacuation of 2.4 million people. 12,078 cyclone shelters and other public infrastructures such as schools were ready to accommodate the evacuees in line with COVID-19 prevention measures. Upazila health complexes were prepared for the isolation of evacuees presenting COVID-19 like symptoms. All shelters were equipped with masks, sanitizers, and handwashing facilities and soap. Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) and Cyclone Preparedness Programme (CPP) volunteers were ready for support evacuation in 9 districts. The BDRCS, law enforcement authorities, volunteers from the CPP and the communities themselves supported preparedness efforts. The Armed Forces supported evacuation operations from the Sundarbans.
The Humanitarian Coordination Task Team (HCTT) co-led by the MoDMR and the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office met on 20 May 2020 to be ready to complement GoB-led response efforts. The Needs Assessment Working Group (NAWG) led by the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) and CARE coordinated a rapid joint assessment of the situation in collaboration with national authorities and partners with presence in the most impacted areas. COVID-19-sensitive community engagement materials for cyclone Amphan (including post-cyclone) were already made available here. Situation Analysis and Anticipatory Impacts Assessments were issued in the day’s prior cyclone landfall. It activated the Humanitarian Preparedness and Response Plan (HPRP) in line with the HCTT contingency plan for climate-related disasters in time of COVID19 pandemic.
The anticipated impact of the cyclone also triggered pre-agreed Early Actions protocols by BDRCS and an emergency allocation of IFRC’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) for anticipatory actions to alleviate early on the distress faced by communities.
In Cox’s Bazar district, in the weeks leading up to the landfall of Cyclone Amphan, the Inter-Sector Coordination group (ISCG) – UN agencies and NGO partners – reviewed its 72-hour response plan for extreme weather events, which was developed in cooperation with the District Commissioner, local authorities in Ukhiya and Teknaf Upazilas, the Bangladesh Armed Forces, and Office of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC). The Heads of Sub-Offices group and Emergency Preparedness and Response Working Group groups in Cox’s Bazar activated the “pre-alert phase” of the plan and met regularly on an emergency basis to ensure timely coordination of preparedness activities.
Following the Government’s announcement of Signal Level 9 on 20 May, CPP volunteers raised three red flags in all 34 Rohingya refugee camps. In the days prior, more than 3,400 CPP refugee volunteers had provided early warning messages to the refugee community through roving loudspeakers and speakers at mosques inside the camps. Some 90,000 households had already received tie-down kits to strengthen shelters and facilities including health and nutrition centres. In addition, humanitarian partners had prepositioned emergency stock items including food, tarpaulins, ropes, floor mats, and water purification tablets in warehouses located in Cox’s Bazar, Ukhiya, and Teknaf and containers within the camps for rapid distribution following landfall in case of need.