As residents evacuated when Cyclone Phailin approached begin to return to their homes on the coast of India, they are finding widespread destruction and devastation. Catholic Relief Services is there to help with an initial distribution of 10,000 shelter kits and small cash grants to families who lost their homes. These tarpaulins and other materials will provide temporary protection from the elements. The cash will allow families to meet other immediate needs.
The first distribution began today in New Boxipanny village. Families without a roof over their heads now have a way to shelter from unpredictable weather.
CRS has been active in this area of India for decades. Working with Caritas India and other local partners, further aid programs will help people rebuild lives and livelihoods in the wake of the storm that devastated so many communities.
In one area CRS has surveyed, every small house – made of mud, bamboo and thatch – had been damaged or completely destroyed. In another, some more substantial dwellings had withstood the winds but many had lost their roofs. Some whose houses survived still lost essential items like cooking and other kitchen supplies.
Many who went to shelters or moved in with relatives or friends are living in crowded conditions. Food and fuel are in short supply.
In addition, roads are blocked by fallen trees which also took down power lines, meaning there will be no electricity for a long time.
“It will take a long time to recover from this storm but CRS has been working in India for years and we will continue to be here during this time of great need,” said John Shumlansky, country representative in India.
The relatively low death toll was attributed to greater disaster preparedness, a major area of programming for CRS. As the storm with its 130 mph winds neared the coastline, CRS and its Church partners worked with the government and other agencies to help evacuate almost 1 million people to areas where they would be safe.