On May 26th, 2021, Cyclone Yaas, which intensified into a “very severe cyclonic storm”, impacted the Indian states of West Bengal and Odisha. Yaas lashed coastal areas of both states with ferocious winds and rains, bringing large waves of water that crashed into and flooded villages across the Sundarbans delta. River waters flooded above danger levels and concrete dams began to overflow.
- In West Bengal, over 300,000 houses were damaged, and embankments were breached in 134 places, but the full extent of the damage is yet unknown.
- In the Sundarbans, as many as 19 locations of drinking water and infrastructure such as fencing for animal barriers and jetties were damaged.
- The Government of West Bengal has given estimates of over 200,000 hectares of crop damage and about 300 embankment breaches.
- There is fear that the influx of salt water from the Bay of Bengal brought by Yaas will severely affect arable land in the region, affecting the ability of millions of poor Indians to grow food crops essential for their survival.
AID partner, Chetana Sangha, has been at the forefront of the relief efforts in the aftermath of Cyclone Yaas. Chetana took prompt action to repair water drainage systems in the affected areas, helping to clear flooding and remove salt-water accumulations. Chetana is distributing clean, drinking water amongst the affected population on a daily basis. In response to increasing fears about the spreading of diarrhea and other water-borne illnesses, Chetana is coordinating preparations with local health officials to respond quickly to any outbreak of disease.
While the local health authorities made accommodations in relief camps for patients, Chetana is working to make emergency accommodations for patient treatment at the local government hospital and use local high schools for patient care should the situation worsen. As water levels recede after Saptami, Chetana is focusing on fighting potential outbreaks of disease by sprinkling lime, bleaching powder and phenyl as widely as possible in affected areas. Chetana is also planning to purchase 20 liter jerrycans to distribute to villages to store drinking water in village households.
Chetana has paused its community kitchen project as other organizations are also stepping up to meet needs by distributing food, but will continue operating its community kitchens in the long run as the work of other organizations slows down.
They also organized a discussion about relief options with 30 women group leaders from the villages of Kuemuri, Herambapur and East Surendra Nagar. The discussion revealed that about 100 families need food materials, 100 families require dry food, and pollution control is an issue for 120 families. 22 families in Kumarpur and 36 families in Bisnupur need help with pond irrigation; these 58 families will get pollution control materials on 7th June. In Kuemuri village, 30 families will receive cooking gas supplies. Chetana has distributed 56,000 liters of water, with 400 families receiving 20 liters of water every day.
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