India: Cyclone Gaja Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) - DREF Operation n° MDRIN021, Update No. 1

Situation Report
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Description of the disaster

The fifth named cyclone of the 2018 North Indian Ocean cyclone season, 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 120 kmph 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 these measures, the high wind speed and heavy rains nonetheless caused deaths, damages to houses and affected public infrastructure. According to the Tamil Nadu government1, as of 11 November 2018, the death toll stood at 45, with approximately 250,000 people evacuated to 493 relief camps. It was also reported that more than 115,000 houses were damaged or destroyed. Finally, several hundred animals were lost, more than a hundred thousand trees were uprooted, and approximately 40,000 electrical poles were destroyed, along with 3,500km of electrical cables.

Summary of current 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 can be deployed at short notice to support response operations. Based on the operational needs, IRCS will deploy surge teams from other states and Regional Disaster Response Teams (RDRT) members from other countries 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.