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In the wake of Cyclone Fani, Odisha emerges a role model in disaster preparedness

In preparation for Cyclone Fani, the state of Odisha carried out ‘one of the biggest human evacuations in history,’ with more than a million people evacuated into 9,000 shelters in 24 hours.

Tenzin Pema & Sujata Sangwan
5th May 2019
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In the aftermath of Cyclone Fani, one of the worst cyclones to hit India’s eastern coastline, Odisha has proved it is one of the most disaster-ready states in the world.


In preparation for Cyclone Fani, which made landfall on Friday in the town of Puri, Odisha carried out ‘one of the biggest human evacuations in history,’ with more than a million people evacuated into 9,000 shelters in 24 hours.


Naveen Patnaik

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik during an aerial survey to assess the impact of Cyclone Fani

Odisha’s efforts to evacuate and shelter millions of people to safety has won international praise.


Mami Mizutori, Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, said,


“India's zero casualty approach to managing extreme weather events is a major contribution to the implementation of the Sendai Framework (for disaster risk reduction) and the reduction of loss of life from such events.”


Calling Cyclone Fani one of the ‘rarest of rare summer cyclones’ – the first in 43 years to hit the state – Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said tracking and predicting it was very challenging. “In fact, till 24 hours of its landfall, one was not sure about the trajectory it was going to take... However, we decided to prepare ourselves to face all possible eventualities," he said.


More than 45,000 volunteers, 2,000 emergency workers, 100,000 officials, youth clubs, and other civil society organisations such as National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF), Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) agencies, teamed up to work around the clock to evacuate 1.2 million people.


The preparation included sending three million targeted messages and setting up around 7,000 kitchens and 9,000 shelters. Cyclone Fani, which made landfall in Puri with wind speed of more than 200 km per hour and gusting speed of 240 km per hour, damaged critical infrastructure, especially power, telecom, and water supply, Patnaik said.


According to media reports, the death toll, as on Saturday, stood at 12. In comparison, the super-cyclone in 1999 claimed 10,000 lives in the state. Since then, the state has focused extensively on building the infrastructure and developing manpower and skills for disaster management and preparedness.



“For me and my government, every life is precious and we have worked with that goal. I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart all the volunteers, PRI Members, officials, and staff who have worked tirelessly and selflessly to get around 1.2 million people to safety,” said CM Patnaik.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit Odisha in the wake of Cyclone Fani. He also spoke to Patnaik and assured continued support from the Centre in rebuilding efforts.  


As Odisha mounted a massive restoration and rebuilding drive across the state, the CM had this to say about the state's exemplary disaster preparedness,


“The resilience of the people of Odisha and extensive preparations for evacuating and sheltering over a million people in the face of Cyclone Fani has further cemented the state's capabilities in disaster preparedness.”



Cyclone Fani: here’s how you can help


Chief Minister's Relief Fund

You can donate online to the Odisha Chief Minister’s Relief Fund at https://cmrfodisha.gov.in/donation/onlinedonation.php.

You also have the option to write a cheque or a bank draft in favour of “Chief Minister’s Relief Fund, Odisha”, payable at Bhubaneswar, with the following mailing address:

Additional Secretary to Government

Chief Minister’s Relief Fund

General Administration & Public Grievance Department

Odisha Secretariat, Bhubaneswar-751001



Fintech unicorn Paytm has opened up contributions on its digital payments app to enable users to contribute to relief and rehabilitation efforts in Odisha. Users have the option to contribute to the Odisha Cyclone Relief Fund on the Paytm app.


SEEDS India is reaching out to 100,000 people in the most affected regions with safe drinking water, hygiene kits, and medical camps. The not-for-profit organisation is providing safe drinking water to affected families through local water treatment and organising health camps to provide urgent medical attention to the victims of Cyclone Fani.


To make a contribution, go to www.seedsindia.org/donate/



SOS Children’s Villages of India has set up two relief camps, reaching out to 1,000 affected families who are most vulnerable, with safe child care spaces for children being created in these relief camps.


Make a donation online at: https://www.soschildrensvillages.in/help-victims-of-cyclone-fani



ActionAid Association has its emergency response teams on the ground, who are ready to do an early assessment and find out needs of impacted populations. ActionAid teams, which are closely monitoring the situation in Odisha and West Bengal, have been working with the state government and other institutions, supporting the evacuation of locals and spreading early warning measures with the local community radio.


To donate to ActionAid’s Cyclone Fani relief fund, go to https://www.actionaidindia.org/cyclone-fani/.



Goonj: Non-governmental organisation Goonj is accepting monetary contributions as well as materials including food, utensils, clothes, toiletries, essentials and other items. To make a contribution, go to https://goonj.org/cyclone-fani/.


Ketto: Disaster relief NGO Rapid Response has asked for Rs 10,00,000 on the crowdfunding website Ketto, to distribute 1,000 relief kits to 1,000 worst affected families. Make your contribution online at https://www.ketto.org/fundraiser/fanicyclone.


Milaap: Organised by the Kalinga Swaraj Foundation, the campaign is aiming to raise a total of Rs 1 crore, of which an over Rs 11.6 lakh has already been received. You can make a donation by clicking here https://milaap.org/fundraisers/help-odisha-from-fani.


Oxfam India: NGO Oxfam India is looking out for monetary donations, which will go towards water, emergency food supplies, shelter and hygiene kits, rehabilitation and long-term recovery. To donate, go to https://donate.oxfamindia.org/cyclonefani.


Helpage India: The NGO has created a portal and is accepting monetary donations to rebuild the lives of those affected by the cyclone. The organisation will use the money for rations, medical supplies and other relief materials. To make a contribution, click here https://www.helpageindia.org/fani-relief-intervention.


World Vision: The international disaster management agency has opened a relief fund donations page for India and Bangladesh. The agency will release the funds to their local partners doing relief work. Make a donation online at https://www.worldvision.org/disaster-relief-news-stories/2019-cyclone-fani-facts


DonateKart: This website has listed a few essential items such as rice, water, wheat and sanitary napkins among others that people can choose from and donate. You can buy items for relief by clicking here https://www.donatekart.com/Mumbai/Cyclonefani_CHF/.


UNICEF USA: UNICEF is asking for donations towards children’s healthcare, nutrition, safe drinking water and protection. It accepts donations in US dollars. You can make a contribution at https://donate.unicefusa.org/page/contribute/please-help-now-cyclone-fani.




Also read: What the world can learn from Odisha, India’s most disaster-ready state



This article has been updated with more details on how you can help in the relief and restoration work being carried out in the wake of Cyclone Fani.

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