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Cyclone Phailin made landfall earlier today as the Indian government oversaw the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people from coastal areas. The Indian Meterological Department predicts the massive storm will have wind speeds of 130-137 mph and devastate homes, crops, communication, electricity, roads and rail. Phailin is the most powerful storm to hit northeastern India since 1999.
The National Disaster Management Authority estimates that 12 million people will be affected in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, areas where CRS, the local Church and partners have ongoing projects. Some relief items are already in place and CRS is arranging delivery of additional items pending results of post-storm assessments.
On October 11, 2013 – the day before the storm made landfall – CRS worked with the local Church and NGOs to recruit volunteers in communities that were in the cyclone’s path. Those community volunteers ensured people followed evacuation orders and that storm shelters were appropriately stocked with food and emergency supplies.
In Bhubaneshwar, about 35 miles from the coast, CRS operations manager Kirti Mishra reported intense wind and rain, but said “it will be even worse closer to the sea.” She added that “I am so grateful to the local Church and our partners for mobilizing volunteers to help evacuations go smoothly. We will continue to coordinate with them and the local government to see that the right help reaches the people who need it the most.”