India

MCC donates food, funds to help victims of "super cyclone" in India

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AKRON, Pa. - A severe cyclone struck the eastern Indian state of Orissa on October 29, and the extent of the destruction is slowly becoming apparent. The death toll is believed to be in the thousands - perhaps tens of thousands. Ed Martin, Mennonite Central Committee's Central and Southern Asia program director, is currently in India and reports the storm is being called a "super cyclone." Many people are homeless after the storm, which generated winds of more than 250 kilometers per hour/160 miles per hour as it roared in from the Bay of Bengal. Three days of heavy rain followed.
MCC plans a $481,000 Cdn./$322,000 U.S. response to help storm victims.

Partner agency CASA has requested MCC donate 1,000 metric tons of wheat, which it can exchange for rice, for its "food-for-work" programs over the next four months, December to March. MCC will provide 500 metric tons of wheat through the Canadian Foodgrains Bank and will give $183,000 Cdn./$122,500 U.S. so CASA can purchase more rice in India. CASA stands for Churches' Auxiliary for Social Action; it is the relief arm of the Council of Churches in India based in Delhi.

CASA staff estimate the food-for-work program will employ 13,500 people for 15 days. People will earn about 5 kilograms/11 pounds of rice per day for their work cleaning up sand and debris that is silting up wells and fish ponds and littering fields. An additional four to five people - likely family members - would benefit from this food, so the program is expected to assist a total of 70,000 people. Total value of the MCC-donated food is $366,000 Cdn./$245,000 U.S.

Cyclone season, which lasts from about September to November, has been especially severe this year. The October 29 cyclone was the second to hit Orissa in October. MCC workers in India are requesting an additional $115,000 Cdn./$77,000 U.S. so they can respond as they receive additional requests for help with water purification and other relief and rehabilitation efforts.

Persons wishing to donate money to MCC for India cyclone relief should mark their contributions "5708-2000" and mail them to the nearest MCC office.

Earlier in October, areas in and around Calcutta were covered with 2 to 4 feet of water due to heavy rains and a government decision to release water from bursting dams. Drinking water became contaminated and waterborne diseases were feared. With local agencies, MCC is helping provide bleach and lime to for water sources, water purification tablets, oral rehydration solutions, medications, tarps and food. MCC's contribution was $15,000 Cdn./$10,000 U.S.