Very severe tropical storm plunges Indian coastal region into a crisis
In October, a tropical storm in the Indian city of Visakhapatnam destroyed the livelihood of many thousand people. The city is situated at the northern end of the region, where our partner AMG operates. Apart from a large Hospital, wortundtat also runs a school with 2,000 places and several Villages for leprosy patients and their relatives. The storm swept across the coastal region with over 125 miles per hour. A vast number of trees were uprooted, electricity pylons fell like ninepins, telephone lines were interrupted. Visakhapatnam and the surrounding towns and villages were cut off from the outside world for several days. Parts of the airport terminal were destroyed and at times the runway was flooded as were many roads in the area. Road and rail transport collapsed. It didn’t take long for drinking water to become scarce, whilst Diesel and fuel were also running out; apart from that it was not possible to guarantee the supply of other goods.
Over 100 fatalities
However, the storm did not only cause property damage: well over 100 people lost their lives because of it; many others were injured. The government estimated the storm to have caused damage amounting to about EUR 8.85 billion. This made the cyclone the most destructible tropical storm, which people in the region could remember. However, the clean-up operation took a very long time. Even over two weeks after the violent storm, the authorities had not yet opened the airport again. Many telephones also did not work for a long time. And for at least 14 days, helpers were only able to reach remote places under very difficult conditions.
Aid organisations were called to support the people who helped in the crisis
In this grim situation, the Prime Minister of the Federal State of Andhra Pradesh asked the local aid organisations for their support in providing supplies for the storm victims. AMG quickly adapted to the circumstances and helped with a total number of 40,000 speedily prepared food parcels, which were delivered to the region. Teachers, pupils and staff of the AMG Administration joined in to ensure that help reached the poor as soon as possible.
The poorest of the poor were most badly affected
As usual in such situations, the poorest of the poor suffered and still suffer the most: as almost all their shacks are mainly built with wood or dried mud and covered with straw, many of them were already destroyed by storm and rain. And because most routes of transportation have also been destroyed, those who have a job cannot get to their workplace. However, many of the poorer people live of menial tasks, which were not in demand after the storm as most employers also had to interrupt their work because of it. Due to the poor supply situation, prices for simple food in the region went sky high – another factor, which added to the misery of those who were already in greatest need before the storm.
Help from our Indian partner
As a result, AMG – with the financial support of wortundtat – also helped some of these victims by making a special effort: well over 9,000 aid packets were distributed to people, who were in particular need of help. They received:
- 10 kilo of rice
- 2 kilo of lentils
- 1 litre of cooking oil
- 1 kilo of salt
- 1 kilo of chili powder
- Washing powder
Apart from that, AMG supplied about 3,000 people with clothing.