UPDATE: Cyclone Phailin is now a tropical depression that will continue to drop heavy rain for the next 48 hours. Initial reports estimate that more than 8 million people are affected and 200,000 to 350,000 homes are severely damaged or destroyed. Crop losses are high and sanitation is likely to become a concern in coming days.
Prior to the cyclone making landfall, the local government and
multiple organizations – including CRS – coordinated the country’s
biggest evacuation in 23 years with more than 900,000 people moved from
low-lying coastal areas in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh to nearly 250
emergency shelters in schools and government offices. This massive
evacuation helped keep reported casualties low thus far.
John Shumlansky, CRS’ country representative in India, said that,
“While reports of casualties are low, we shouldn’t underestimate the
scale of this disaster. There are millions of people who will need support
to rebuild their homes and livelihoods. CRS, the local Church, our
sister Caritas agencies and other partners will work with the government
to determine how we can help the poorest families as they begin that
CRS will visit affected communities over the next two days to
determine the most urgent needs and coordinate with other organizations
to deliver aid to families. Immediate needs likely include water
purification, sheeting for shelter and hygiene kits. Families will also
need long-term assistance with transitional shelter and recovering from
the loss of crops and household goods. CRS has many relief items already
in place to reach communities as quickly as possible.