India - Cyclone Fact Sheet #1, Fiscal Year (FY) 2000

Situation Report
Originally published
Background: On October 18 and 19, a severe cyclone in the Bay of Bengal hit the eastern coast of India, causing floods and wind damage in Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, and West Bengal states. A second, larger cyclone (the worst storm in almost 30 years) struck India's eastern coastline on October 29, further impacting Orissa and West Bengal states. According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the most severely affected districts (housing a total of 11 million persons) are Balasore, Bhadrak, Cuttack, Ganjam, Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur, and Kendrapara. The districts of Khurda, Puri, Nayagarh, Gajapati, Keonjhar Mayurbhang, and Dhenkanal (housing a total of 7 million persons) are partially affected, with 30-50% damage.

Current Situation:

Affected Population:

  • As of November 14, the Ministry of Agriculture's Central Disaster Mitigation Center (CDMC) reports 9,465 persons killed and 2,260 persons injured as result of the two cyclones. More than 8,100 of these deaths are in Jagatsinghpur District alone. Because many persons are still unaccounted for, comprehensive assessments have yet to be completed, and communications have yet to be restored in all of the affected areas, the death toll is likely to increase.
  • OCHA reports that the cyclones impacted approximately 15 million persons, and damaged 3 million homes (1.5 million of which were completely destroyed). Estimating that an average of five family members reside per dwelling, this indicates that approximately 7.5 million people are homeless.
Infrastructure Damage:
  • OCHA reports that in the seven worst affected districts, over 70% of the shelters are completely destroyed, including 10-15% of those houses with non-thatch roofs. In the other seven affected districts, 40-50% of shelters are completely destroyed and 10-15% are damaged.
  • The Southern Electricity Supply Corporation estimates that total damage to the power grid is approximately Rs 330 million. As of October 8, 30% of power supply had been restored and intermittent phone service was available in Bhubaneswar, the capital of Orissa. The Government of Orissa estimates that power will not be fully restored in Bhubaneswar for two weeks, and that it will be six weeks until power is restored in Cuttack. Public utility personnel are performing around-the-clock work to restore public utilities and roads. However, electricity and telecommunications remain largely non-functional in the principal damaged areas. Rail service to Orissa already has been restored and two trains per day are transporting relief supplies to affected areas.
  • OCHA reports that 11,000 schools are either significantly damaged or destroyed and that those still standing are being used as temporary shelters. School materials are required to replace those lost during the flooding.
Impact on the Agricultural Sector:
  • The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reports that the loss of substantial grain stores and unharvested crops will have serious repercussions not only on immediate, but also on mid-term food security since the next harvest does not occur until April/May 2000. The CDMC reports at least 1,225,000 hectares of cropland destroyed, and OCHA reports that 90-100% of crop loss occurred in the affected areas. The districts of Kendrapara, Jagatsingpur, and Puri suffered saltwater inundation from a 5-meter tide that penetrated 26 km inland, further affecting agricultural cropland.
  • The CDMC reports that the cyclones killed at least 355,000 cattle. Per Indian press reports, the Department of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary does not have adequate cattle feed for the hundreds of thousands of livestock that survived the cyclone. The Department has asked for 4,000 MT of cattle feed for the animals.
  • Thousands of families have lost their livelihoods as a result of the loss of livestock, agricultural land, and fishing boats.
  • Due to limited access to safe drinking water, damage to sewerage systems, and inadequate sanitary conditions, risk of outbreak of communicable disease is high. Local press report that diarrheal disease and cholera are on the rise. The Government of Orissa has received reports of 22,296 cases of diarrheal disorders. An outbreak of measles is also of concern because pre-cyclone vaccination levels for this disease in the District of Orissa stand at only 60%. Several NGOs are creating medical surveillance systems to augment those of the Government of Orissa to track the incidence of diseases.
  • The Government of Orissa reports that all electrical water pumps in the five most affected districts are non-functional; however, almost all hand pumps are operational. In Orissa State, disinfection has been added to tubewells and scientists from the Defense Research Development Organization and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research are in the process of establishing desalination plants in affected areas.
  • UNICEF is repairing the cold chain and replacing vaccines spoiled by lack of cooling.
  • Some looting of relief supplies in transit has occurred; therefore, the GOI is urging all NGOs to travel in convoys. The GOI has tasked the police and army to provide protection for the transport and distribution of relief supplies.
Coordination of Assistance/Principal Needs:
  • The Prime Minister has created a task force headed by the Defense Minister to direct and coordinate all rescue, relief, and rehabilitation efforts. This task force meets on a regular basis to take stock of relief measures. In addition, the CDMC meets daily to coordinate the supply of relief materials to the affected areas and the delivery of lifeline services. At the state level, the Chief Minister and various state and central ministers are involved in monitoring relief efforts, with operations directed by the Special Relief Commissioner and District Collectors. The U.N. plans to provide technical support to district governments to establish coordination cells.
  • A U.N. Disaster Management Team, represented by various U.N. agencies, is assisting the GOI in coordinating relief assistance. In addition, the U.N. has fielded a Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team. Coordination between the GOI (at all levels), the Indian Red Cross, local NGOs, and international relief organizations is good. Over 25 international NGOs are involved in the relief effort.
  • OCHA confirms that 1) there is a serious shortage of essential food items in the affected districts; 2) a large portion of the affected population will be forced to depend on food aid for several months; 3) the absence of drinking water and sanitation remains a critical concern; and, 4) basic shelter needs are required for a large percentage of the affected population.
  • Following the completion of UNDAC's assessment mission on November 8, OCHA reported that food, water, and medical assistance are the immediate needs of cyclone victims. Medium-term needs include restoration of communication systems, shelter, sanitation, and the rehabilitation of educational facilities.
  • OCHA reports that food assistance for 2.25 million people will be required for at least a month, depending on crop yields. Ready-to-eat food is in greatest demand since kerosene is scarce, fallen timber is waterlogged, and many people have lost their cooking utensils.
  • The GOI has asked all state governments to send water and sanitation experts and equipment to the affected areas to assist in restoring the water supply system. OCHA reports that desalination machines, 24 generators to run village water systems, 10 MT of bleaching powder, and 200,000 household water security kits (containing water jugs and water purification tablets) are required to meet water needs.
  • The Government of Orissa has requested $5 million in international assistance for sanitation. This is 20% of the total amount ($25 million) needed for latrine construction, garbage disposal, and rehabilitation of pumps and toilet platforms.
  • A World Bank assessment team will visit Orissa State in late November to assess ways in which the organization can become involved in rehabilitation operations.
GOI Relief Efforts:
  • The GOI has promised more than Rs 500 million as a grant to the Government of Orissa to help meet the needs of cyclone victims, and has already provided Rs 250 million as an advance to the state. Despite the GOI's commitment to respond to this disaster, the current financial contributions awarded by the GOI fall far short of the Rs 2,500 million that the state government estimates is required to meet short-term relief requirements.
  • With the assistance of neighboring states, the GOI has taken significant strides to restore electricity and telephone communications, clear roads, provide medical assistance, and distribute relief commodities. However, the magnitude of the cyclones and extent of damage has overwhelmed the GOI's ability to respond.
  • The Government of Orissa estimates that it is only reaching 40% of the affected areas with relief supplies and has appealed to the NGO community to undertake their own distributions in coordination with the district government and the U.N.
  • On October 29, the Indian Army, Air Force, and Navy were called into service for rescue and relief operations, but were not able to operate until October 31due to inclement weather. The Indian military is flying 25-40 helicopter food drops per day to inaccessible areas. As of November 9, the CDMC reports that the Indian military had engaged 27 helicopters to airdrop a total of 450 MT of food to affected areas isolated by floodwaters. As of that same date, the CDMC reports that a total of 79,000 MT of food commodities had been delivered (through both local and international efforts) to affected persons.
  • The GOI also has airlifted more than 160 small boats into affected areas to assist with rescue operations and the delivery of relief supplies.
U.S. Government Assistance:
  • U.S. Ambassador to India Richard F. Celeste issued a disaster declaration on October 22, and USAID/OFDA responded immediately by providing $25,000 to the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund to meet the immediate needs of affected persons. On October 29, Ambassador Celeste requested and USAID/OFDA provided approximately $107,000 to the USAID Mission to support a grant to CARE for the local purchase of plastic sheeting.
  • A USAID/OFDA Regional Advisor, based at the regional office in Kathmandu, traveled to Orissa on October 22 to participate as a member of the UNDAC team. This Regional Advisor has returned to Orissa twice since his original visit to assess relief needs further. At his recommendation, and in coordination with the GOI, U.N., USAID Mission, and key relief organizations, USAID/OFDA transmitted $3.2 million to the USAID Mission in support of CARE and CRS emergency relief programs.
  • The CARE program, at a cost of $2 million, will provide household kits (consisting of clothing, cooking utensils, basic tools, plastic sheeting, and sleeping mats); seeds and tools for kitchen gardens; and, clean drinking water to 250,000 beneficiaries in Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Cuttack, and Puri. The CRS program, at a cost of $1.2 million, will provide shelter, clothing, and seeds and tools for kitchen gardens to 150,000 persons in Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Jajpur, and Puri.
  • On November 2, USAID/Food for Peace redirected 10,380 MT of Title II assistance to CARE and CRS to meet the food needs of 1.2 million cyclone victims in Orissa State over the next several months. This assistance is valued at $4.15 million, and includes: 1) 3,900 MT of corn-soya blend and 480 MT of vegetable oil to CARE at a total cost of $1.93 million; and, 2) 4,800 MT of bulgur wheat, 600 MT of corn-soya blend, and 600 MT of vegetable oil to CRS at a total cost of $2.22 million.
  • USAID/OFDA: $3,332,000
  • USAID/FFP: $4,150,000
  • TOTAL USG ASSISTANCE: $7,482,000