With state officials taking advance precautions and conducting timely evacuations, the death toll of Cyclone Hudhud has been kept to a minimum.
Even as the storm pounded three north coastal Andhra districts with 200kmph winds and two-metre high storm surges on Sunday, officials said three people were killed till late evening.
The number is higher than what chief minister Chandrababu Naidu wanted – zero. But still the low casualties point to the progress technology and state preparedness has made since calamities like the tidal wave in 1977 in Krishna district and storm flood of Godavari districts in 1996 claimed thousands of lives.
Even as Hudhud neared Vizag, where it made landfall, cranes and bulldozers were already working to clear away fallen trees. As the storm’s eye inched near, police were out in force ushering people and vehicles to safety. NDRF teams were also seen in action.
Learning from the devastation wrought by cyclone Phalilin last year, Odisha moved 156,000 people to one of its 1,692 cyclone shelters.
Ganjam, which was worst hit by Phailin, evacuated about 24,000 people. Three casualties have been reported from Odisha so far.
Chief minister Naveen Patnaik also held high-level meeting in Bhubaneswar to review rescue and relief operations for which 16 NDRF and 10 Odisha action force teams were pressed into action.
Apart from deployment of forces in advance for rescue and rehabilitation, governments are now focusing more on safety and precaution measures.
A day before landfall, district administration officials in Andhra were seen along the coast and sea shore villages moving the usually reluctant villagers to the safety of cyclone shelters.
At Chapalavuppada village, 20km north of Vizag, people were provided with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Medical workers were ready with medicines and ample water packets.
In port city of Vizag, all the hoardings, which could fall or fly away, were removed. “The city with concrete buildings is relatively safe but there was danger due to such hoardings,” said N Yuvaraj, district collector.
And it seems the days of ministers and bureaucrats sitting in offices and ‘monitoring situations’ is also gone. The collector, with his machinery, was at ground zero during landfall.
Though sitting in Hyderabad, about 600kms from the action, both Naidu and chief secretary IYR Krishna Rao held several video conferences with district officials to keep them equipped and alert to deal with the worse of the situations.
(Odisha inputs by Priya Ranjan Sahu)