Thousands dead and millions of people homeless after cyclone disaster in India

News and Press Release
Originally published
During the weekend of October 29, 1999, a devastating "super-cyclone" ravaged the eastern coast of India. This was the strongest storm in decades to hit the country. Despite some warning of the pending danger, local residents were not prepared to survive such an ordeal. As wind gusts of up to 300 kilometres per hour battered the coastal areas of Orissa, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh, people fled to escape the rising tide waters, which pushed three kilometres inland. Homes, people, animals and local transportation was washed out to sea leaving behind only remnants of what used to be. The scene was one of total destruction.
Now the storm has subsided and local residents are left to clean up after this massive natural disaster. Over ten million people have weathered this storm and there are reports of over 10,000 casualties. Human and animal carcasses are piling up and being prepared for mass cremation. However, the bodies cannot be disposed of quickly enough and now an epidemic has struck the region with millions crying out for food, clean water and other sources of relief.

Local infrastructures have been completely obliterated. In the worst hit regions, communication is totally cut off, leaving friends and relatives to wonder about the fate of their loved ones. Despite a main highway being open, transportation has been brought to a standstill and many supply trucks cannot reach their destinations as looting has now consumed local activity. Severe beatings, price gorging and other illicit practices have now surfaced as residents battle to provide for themselves and their families. One egg costs 10 rupees and a box of matches costs 20 rupees - ten times the normal cost.

Rescue efforts by local, state and national governments are not enough to provide relief for the millions of people effected by this calamity. International organisations and agencies are now getting involved, with European countries and the United States promising millions of dollars in aid. However, this aid money may never reach the most needy of those in the flood-stricken areas. People in villages and other small towns are in need of other Indians to bring aid to where they are taking refuge. Only this will ensure that all people can find needed assistance.

Operation Mercy are not working in the area but have decided to raise funds in behalf of a local organization. They plan right now to provide aid and assistance to 5,000 to 10,000 people in the most needy areas of the effected region. The items proposed are very basic, but currently the prices are very high and families are in need of the most simple daily requirements. Because of the wet conditions which have destroyed all personal belongings, local residents are in need of some protection from the elements. Blankets will provide that protection during the night, the most vulnerable time for these grief-stricken people. The basic Indian diet consists of rice and lentils, which can then be made into life-sustaining meals. Currently, food prices are very high and most people cannot afford to buy even these basic dietary elements. The teams will distribute 10 kilogramme bags of rice, 10 kilogramme bags of lentils and 5 kilogramme bags of Chuda (beaten rice). This will sustain the people for 15-20 days. Many of the people in the extreme coastal regions were shocked when all their personal belongings were swept out to sea. Thus, many of them are in need of basic kitchen utensils like pots and other cooking equipment.

The organization has sent a team of 20 people to this devastated region. This team will work to distribute the above-mentioned items as long as the funds last - further aid will be given as needed and resources are available.

To help 5,000 people cost is US $204,775 and to be able to help 10,000 people we need to raise US $408,600. Thank you for your support!