iconimg Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times
Ganjam (Odisha), October 15, 2013
When every single person from his village fled for safer pastures, 60-year-old Chandra Giri Tarini and his wife tucked inside their hut and braved the cyclone all night. As fate would have it, they survived the storm even though their hut couldn’t.

“Maine socha marna to ha hi, to ghar main kaun na marun (I thought I have to die then why not die in my home),” Tarini told HT, while hugging his wife of 39 years Shanti, who was by his side when Phailin struck on the night of October 12.

Everyone in his New Podampeta village in Ganjam district (150 kms from Bhubaneshwar) — the epicentre of cyclone Phailin — asked him to move to a safe location, but he paid no heed.

As the village doesn’t have proper roads, the relief teams didn’t come to take them to shelter homes. The villagers had then decided to take shelter on the other side of a hill but Tarini expressed his inability to climb the steep hill and preferred to stay back.

“The wind was wild,” Taini said, while pointing towards the blown off roof of his collapsed hut. “First the roof flew off. As the wind speed increased the walls of my hut started to shake. After some time, they collapsed on us,” he said.

The couple remained buried under the debris of their house for almost five hours and thought they would die. Next morning, when the first rays of the sun beamed through his ravaged home, Tarini somehow lifted himself and his wife out from the rubble.

Recalling the night, Tarini who looks much older than his age, described the noise of the storm like a “tiger’s roar”. “The sound echoed in my ears. I have never seen or heard something like that before in my life,” he said thanking God for saving his life.

What they saw next was Phailin’s devastation. All the houses (about 100) in the village were grazed to the ground and were in deep water. “I was able to see just a few bamboo sticks floating. Everything else was gone,” he said.

A little later other villagers descended from the hill top. “I caught a strong tree, closed my eyes and just prayed,” said 45- year-old L Mangri, a resident of the village.