The best news about cyclone Phailin’s landfall at Gopalpur was that instead of the much-feared wind speed of more than 300 kmph, it hit with a wind speed 210 kmph. But the weatherman is still holding his breath. The wind speed might yet increase.
A shepherd holds an umbrella as he stands on a highway with his flock in Srikakulam district in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. (Reuters Photo)
But around 300 km away, the Paradip harbour area, where operations had been shut down in advance, the wind speed remained surprisingly normal at 30 kmph. While the first reports of damages – mostly to houses -- are slowly coming in, there is no word on how the Gopalpur port -- key to the new industrial projects in the region -- has fared. Even Berhampur, headquarters of Ganjam, has been hit by a windspeed of 200 kmph.
“The wind has been screaming since evening. I’m now holed up inside an inspection bungalow,” said a police officer who is part of the security team of Gopalpur legislator Pradip Panigrahi.
“After 1999, mother nature has again rendered Odisha helpless. I saw uprooted trees flying 14 years ago and have no desire to do so again,” added Sangram Das, director of a consultancy firm.
Phailin’s first point of impact was in Andhra Pradesh’s Srikakulam. And hours before it made landfall, trees were uprooted, cellphone tower collapsed, electric poles twisted, thatched huts flew away and villages were flooded.
The pounding rain and winds lashed the coastal villages of Vajrapurkottur, Kaviti, Domkur and Barua, forcing people to stay indoors. Overcoming their initial reluctance, others have already moved to relief centres.
Prashant Dhar, chief of Andhra operations of the National Disaster Response Force, said the relief operations would begin early on Sunday morning after the cyclone passes.
(With Priya Ranjan Sahu)