An estimated 20,000 persons died in the October Supercyclone in Orissa, eastern India. The bodies of only 10,000 have been recovered. Most of those who died were poor subsistence fishermen and migrant farmers from the lowest castes of Indian society. More than 300,000 head of livestock were lost. Approximately 1.3 million houses were damaged or destroyed. Three million farmers and fishermen have lost their means of making a living.
The Rebuilding Begins
Catholic Relief Services is now working to help the people of Orissa recover from the cyclone and floods that struck October 31, 1999. This is a second phase of relief assistance, following the initial emergency relief phase. To help with the recovery of Orissa, Catholic Relief Services, in coordination with Caritas, is distributing household recovery packages to more than 45,000 families. Each family is receiving food rations vegetable seeds, blankets, plastic sheeting, hand tools, clothing and cooking utensils. Each village receives several watering cans to enable cultivation during the dry season.
Thus far Catholic Relief Services has committed $500,000 of its privately donated funds and has raised $1.1 million from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for the Orissa emergency.
Catholic Relief Services and its local partners are also planning agriculture rehabilitation efforts in Orissa. A rehabilitation program will include sanitizing contaminated wells, distributing fishing nets and tools, and the construction of cyclone shelters and cyclone proof housing.
Initial Emergency Relief Assistance
During the initial relief phase Catholic Relief Services and Caritas reached more than 700,000 persons in nearly 600 villages in Orissa with 6,000 metric tons of food aid from the US Government. Additional non-food relief items included more than $1 million worth of household utensils, blankets and plastic sheeting donated by Catholic Relief Services and other Caritas members. The agency also provided logistical and technical assistance to Caritas and its network of more than 500 volunteers during the relief phase.