Another massive natural disaster, in the form of Cyclone Phallin, made landfall in India over the weekend. The size and speed of Cyclone Phallin, was the largest and most intense to hit India’s shores in the last 14 years. With natural disasters of this magnitude, the statistics related to death tolls and destruction, usually stretch into the stratosphere.
Cyclone Phallin made landfall, and although it did cause an enormous amount of residual damage, the death toll numbers were relatively low, all things considered. India and its residents, were wise enough to take immediate action, long before Cyclone Phallin hit their shores. Current death toll statistics coming out of India, and deemed to be a direct result of Cyclone Phallin hitting, hover just below the 20 mark. There are a few things we can learn from this story, which are applicable to all of us, when natural disasters of this size are headed in our direction.
“At least 17 people were killed and vast swaths of rice crops damaged as Cyclone Phailin, the most powerful tropical storm to hit India’s eastern coast since 1999, made landfall with heavy rain and winds packing up to 210 kilometers (130 miles) an hour.”
This information is a little misleading, Cyclone Phallin was intense enough to be categorized a Category 4 event on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale.
“The state administration, rescue teams and volunteers have evacuated as many as 1 million people from their homes in low-lying coastal areas, Surya Narayan Patro, Odisha’s minister for revenue and disaster management, said today. Food relief is being provided to people who have taken shelter in public schools and buildings, he said.”
Had the state of India not evacuated over 1 million people living in the immediate area where Cyclone Phallin was tracked to hit, the death toll numbers could have been much higher. The forces of nature are nothing to mess with. India must now begin the process of rebuilding and reconstruction, of the damaged infrastructure, but the grief associated with massive casualties, normally associated with events like Cyclone Phallin, will not be as mortifying and depressing for the entire nation.
“The National Disaster Management Authority dispatched a 1,500-strong rescue force to Odisha and Andhra Pradesh states, while the Indian Air Force said it sent two IL-76 airlift teams and was committing two C-130J Super Hercules planes. The government put the military on standby, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said yesterday.”
Unlike here in America, India’s government approached Cyclone Phallin, proactively and pre-emptively, by getting involved with the evacuation proceedings. Here, in the states, the most our state and federal governments do before a natural disaster strikes, is issue evacuation orders, leaving residents to get out of danger on their own. Our emergency preparedness planners could learn a thing or two from India’s government and the way they handled Cyclone Phallin.