Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Monday that he will visit cyclone-hit Visakhapatnam on Tuesday to take stock of the situation there, the Andhra Pradesh government is investing its energy and resources on restoration and relief works even as it remained on alert in view of heavy rainfall warning.
Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu’s Cabinet is expected to be in Visakhapatnam as the Government focuses on bringing life back to normal in the districts of Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam and Vizianagaram which bore the brunt of the cyclonic fury.
According to the State’s Revenue (Disaster Management) Department, five persons were killed in the incidents of wall and roof collapses and uprooting of trees in the region, which was pounded by rains and gale winds at speeds ranging from 170 to 180 kmph yesterday.
The railway line has been badly damaged in Visakhapatnam, where the airport was also affected as heavy downpour and gusty winds downed hundreds of electric poles, trees and hoardings and blew away light-weight objects and vulnerable roof-tops.
Latest weather bulletin said Hudhud lay centred very close to south Chhattisgarh and adjoining southwest Odisha. It would move north-northwestwards and weaken gradually.
Under the influence of the system, rainfall at most places with heavy (6.5–12.4 cm) to very heavy (12.5–24.4 cm) at a few places would occur over Visakhapatnam, Vijayanagaram and Srikakulam districts of north Andhra Pradesh besides some districts of south Odisha during the next 24 hours.
The government said that district officials, heads of departments and every government employee would be on field for relief, restoration and rehabilitation works.
The Chief Minister has directed Hyderabad-headquartered National Remote Sensing Centre to use GIS, GPS and remote sensing technologies to spot the damage and put them on the satellite through geo-tagging. This would enable the government to have the data on damages on the map.
He added that photographs of crop loss, damaged roads, bridges, reservoirs, tanks and railway lines would be made available through satellite technology by Indian Space Research Organisation.
“The government was able to reduce loss of life due to the precautionary measures taken,” Naidu said and directed officials to take up restoration work on a war-footing from today.
The state government has issued an order deputing senior officers to supervise rescue, relief and rehabilitation measures and coordinate with Commissioner (Disaster Management), NDMA and NDRF and other authorities.
As per initial estimates, 70 houses were damaged and loss of animals was put at 34. Officials reported huge damages to railway and power sector in Visakhapatnam.
Orissa government braces for relief and rehabilitation
Meanwhile, the Odisha government braced for relief and rehabilitation in the affected southern districts where its damaged houses and uprooted trees even as heavy rainfall was expected to lash these areas.
While three persons died in Odisha due to the very severe cyclonic storm that made a landfall near Visakhapatnam in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, damage caused by the calamity would be assessed soon, Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) P K Mohapatra said.
As a precautionary measure, around 2.33 lakh people had been evacuated from vulnerable areas to safe places in ten districts in view of Hudhud though the intensity of the cyclone was not very fierce, he said.
Stating that uprooting of trees and damage to thatched houses were reported from some of the southern districts, the SRC said immediate step had been taken for clearance of roads blocked due to uprooted trees and other objects.
Rains accompanied by gusty wind continued in several parts of south Odisha including Malkangiri district and officials said the wind speed would gradually decrease.
As the cyclonic storm moved away from the state and proceeded north-westwards continuing to lose steam gradually, rain and thundershower was expected at most places over Odisha till tomorrow, IMD centre here said.
The met office forecast heavy to very heavy rainfall at one or two places in districts of North Odisha during next 12 and heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places in districts of North Odisha in subsequent 24 hours.
The deceased were identified as Puja Mallick (6) and Hemant Mallick (11) of Magarkanda village in Kendrapara district and 42-year-old fisherman Sudulu Goraya of Penthakata in Puri district, Mohapatra said.
Mohapatra said that there has not been much damage so far in the storm but scores of trees and electricity poles had been knocked over in Potangi area of Koraput district as the system passed through the region after making landfall near Visakhapatnam.
As most of the southern region received heavy to medium rainfall, the state government had made preparations for any possible floods in rivers like Bansadhara and Rusikulya. However, the water level in the two rivers was below danger levels, officials said.
NDRF and ODRAF teams were now gearing up for post-cyclone operations in order to restore normalcy in the cyclone affected areas, official sources said.
Steps have been initiated to restore power supply in some areas in south Odisha where electric poles and other systems had been affected, the sources said.
Armed with equipment and machinery, the teams would soon remove uprooted trees, they said. Free kitchens had been set up in around 2000 shelter homes where the evacuated people were accommodated in the ten districts of Gajapati, Ganjam, Koraput, Malkangiri, Puri, Rayagada, Nabarangpur, Kendrapara, Kalahandi and Khurda, a senior official said.
Those sheltered in these centres would be able to leave for their homes as soon as the rainfall and situation improves and wind speed falls, he said.
Road and train operations to Visakhapatanam were suspended during the cyclonic movement yesterday as a precautionary measure in view of the storm. While the state government stopped plying of buses to Andhra Pradesh and many southern Odisha districts, railways cancelled 58 trains and diverted 50 others.
While bus services were resuming to some places today, the railway was also planning to run trains up to Palasa, the sources said.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had yesterday spoken to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and apprised him of the Odisha government’s preparedness. Similarly, Chief Secretary G C Pati had interacted with Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth thrice over the situation.
(With PTI inputs)