ENGULFED IN DARKNESS – FANI AFTERMATH

Cyclone Fani is one of the rarest of rare summer cyclones to hit Odisha in 43 years. The devastation is unfathomable and unprecedented”, tweeted Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, a day after the cyclone ripped through the Odisha coast. The powerful cyclone may be gone but its impact hangs heavy. Cyclone Fani has wreaked havoc on the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people in Odisha. It has left in its wake a trail of destruction in Odisha. 

Speaking from my personal experience, the aftermath of Cyclone Fani was unbearable and terrifying!  Shattered windowpanes, sturdy trees lying flat on the roads, and downed power lines are the prominent markers of Cyclone Fani. I don’t mind stating the fact that, Puri, Bhubaneswar and Cuttack are now bald without tree cover that they once boasted of!

The heat and humidity are more palpable than before. There is no power, to add to the woes, so the city after dusk is both dark and uncomfortable. As Odisha struggles to rise to its feet, I witnessed that water and power scarcity levelled the rich-poor divide. After six consecutive nights without electricity and tortured by mosquitoes, people were reeling in the aftermath of Cyclone Fani.

Although I’m born in summer, I cannot tolerate heat. I get those small red bumps all over my body. From morning to evening, it wasn’t that painful. I listened to FM Radio throughout the day. They gave useful cyclone updates and in between played Bollywood songs. Apart from this I played card games – UNO and Bold and Chinese Checkers with my sister and aunt and sometimes alone, when no one came to my rescue!  

But at night, right after dinner, the moment I entered my room, it was terrible! My bed is right in front of the A.C. but it wouldn’t work without electricity. Mosquitoes were incessantly kissing me, adding to my woes at night! I couldn’t sleep at night. The moment I rested in bed, I was drenched in sweat. Last month, I had purchased two hand fans made out of bamboo. Those were the only saving grace at night. My mother used to fan me for nearly 3 or 4 hours so that I could sleep, but I couldn’t. I mostly slept after 4:30am and woke up at 7:30 am. It was a nightmare! I missed hopping into kitchen and preparing something delicious and getting applauded! My mother and sister handled the kitchen, so the foodie in me had to eat whatever was served, without a grumble!

Amidst all these, there was another thought at the back of my mind! It is my Birthday month, and I was apprehensive regarding the electricity being restored! Not to have a grand celebration, but to be under comfortable circumstances on my birthday was my wish! Because we were already in the grip of a cruel summer, and the lack of power had worsened the situation. But by God’s grace, electricity in my area was restored on the evening of 8th May. I was really very happy that day and we all slept peacefully that night!

I am reminded of a passage in the Bible, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” It is only the grace of Almighty Lord, that we have survived the devastating cyclone.

Putting everything back on track is the hardest thing after any natural calamity, and the recent cyclone in Odisha has been no different. Nearly eleven days after cyclone Fani battered Odisha, normal life in interior coastal towns of the state is still crippled with no electricity during most hours of the day, little water and barely any connectivity.  While the connectivity of towns with the national highways and state highways has been partially restored, the roads in Puri and Bhubaneswar are still littered with the rubble of toppled trees and razed electric poles. The unattended debris is causing inconvenience to the people in their day-to-day commute. The price of basic commodities is soaring sky high throughout the state.

I pray, our state gets timely help and normalcy is restored soon. My sincere respect to the state government for boldly administering the evacuation and restoration process. Kudos to the helping hands who are leaving no stone unturned in the restoration process even in this scorching heat!

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