The very Severe Cyclonic Storm “YAAS” made landfall on 26 May at around 0900 hrs near south of Balasore, Odisha. The period of landfall coincided with the full moon and lunar eclipse high spring tides created a strong storm surge that inundated the coastal districts of East Midnapore, South 24 Parganas and adjoining districts of West Bengal.
Storm surge and high-intensity rainfall were the two major damaging factors in four districts each of Odisha and West Bengal while one district of the state of Jharkhand also experienced heavy rainfall. Extremely heavy rainfall over the Simlipal region in Mayurbhanj district of Odisha has triggered flash flooding in at least three rivers.
According to Government of West Bengal, hundreds of villages inundated by storm surge are going to remain in this situation for next couple of days. UNICEF along with Government and partners are taking multi-dimensional actions to address the environmental health in these villages and reduce risk of acute diarrheal diseases and along with intensified COVID response.
UNICEF has supported the Governments of Odisha and West Bengal in the preparation of key messages on COVID appropriate behaviors before, during and after cyclones, evidence generation on reach of child specific services through Anganwadi Centers and Child Care Institutions and monitoring the current situations.
Situation Overview and Humanitarian Needs
Cyclone “YAAS” inflicted widespread damages in the coastal districts of West Bengal including East Medinipur, South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas and adjacent districts such as Jhargram, Howrah and Hooghly.
The wind damage caused by the Cyclone was relatively small in West Bengal compared to Odisha, however the storm surge due to Cyclone was significant in the coastal belts of all three coastal districts.
The State Government of West Bengal reports a significant number of breaches (around 143) in the embankments of all these coastal districts causing devastation to more than 4,500 villages in general, specifically to rural habitations, agricultural lands and basic amenities like drinking water, health, sanitation, food availability etc.
In West Bengal, cyclone-displaced people have sought refuge in overcrowded shelters, creating a high risk of vaccine preventable disease outbreaks as well as a possible spike in COVID-19 transmission in the immediate aftermath of the cyclone when evacuees return to their respective communities.
Due to the limited availability of WASH facilities in the shelter camps and inundated WASH facilities in the communities, critical demands are emerging from the affected areas through the IAG network for primary health and WASH services and provisions to immediately be made available.
COVID screening and CAB should be the priority in the Cyclone affected areas given the ongoing second wave across India, including West Bengal.
Children, women, elderly and people with different abilities, being the most vulnerable groups should be supported with basic needs of food, safe drinking water, hygiene and Covid home isolation kits, Halogen / Chlorine tablet, primary health care including mitigation measures for vector borne diseases etc.
Children will require psychosocial support and recreational activities through child friendly spaces, maintaining all CAB measures.