India: Cyclone Gaja Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) - DREF Operation n° MDRIN021, Final Report

Situation Report
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Description of the disaster

Cyclone Gaja made its landfall during the early hours on 16 November 2018. It hit six districts in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, namely Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur, Thanjavur, Pudukottai,
Dindigul and Ramnad. The wind speed reached 120kmph when it reached land.

A major disaster was averted due to the elaborate preparedness measures taken by the government supported by the civil society organizations. Despite of these preparedness measures, the high wind speed and heavy rains nonetheless caused deaths, damages to houses and affected public infrastructure. The cyclonic storm left at least 45 people dead. About 250,000 people were evacuated and housed in 493 shelters. Over 55,000 houses were completely destroyed with half of them being thatched structures.

Summary of response

Overview of Host National Society

The Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) has trained National Disaster Response Teams (NDRT), and National Disaster Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Response Teams (NDWRT), in addition to State Disaster Response Teams (SDRT), which were ready to be deployed at short notice to support response operations. Based on the operational needs, IRCS deployed surge teams from other states and National Disaster Response Teams (NDRT) members from other states in Asia Pacific region for operational and technical support.

The Tamil Nadu state branch is one of IRCS’s most active branches. It has strong leadership, a significant volunteer base, technically qualified and trained staffs, and possess the ability to manage small to medium scale disasters effectively. Tamil Nadu branch received support from the IFRC in 2015 during the Chennai floods, and the branch has displayed its capacity to manage effectively and efficiently the support received through the Federation support mechanism.

Most importantly, it was the Tamil Nadu branch leadership that has stood by the Kerala branch during the Kerala floods which occurred in August 2018. Tamil Nadu branch also supported Kerala branch with dispatch of relief supplies from IRCS’s regional warehouses and supported with volunteer deployments and technical support.

Summary of assistance provided by IRCS in the aftermath of Cyclone Gaja:

• Supported government authorities in search and rescue efforts.

• Provided first aid through its locally trained FA volunteers.

• Cleared fallen trees and debris to clear the roads to improve access.

• Provided food and refreshments to the people in the temporary shelters.

• Supported local government in managing temporary shelters.

• Conducted rapid assessment of needs.

• Collected donations from the people to redistribute among the affected people.

• Deployed volunteers and staff in the affected districts.

• Distribution of Shelter and Household Items to affected population (see table below for more details).