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Cyclone Fani: Govt staff take lead as Odisha picks up the pieces

Thousands of passengers stranded at Bhubaneswar station say uncertainty bothers them more than the delay in departures and arrivals.

From its formation to landfall, how IMD tracked cyclone 'Fani' A bird’s eye view of the destruction caused by Cyclone Fani, a day after its landfall, as part of the aeriel surveillance by Coast Guard Dornier aircrafts to assess the damage caused by the cyclone, in Puri. (PTI)

Krishna Das (39) works at the office of the station manager at Bhubaneswar railway station. With Cyclone Fani throwing train schedules off the track, Das has been helping passengers with information about train movement for the past couple of days.

Das is among many government employees working relentlessly to restore order in Bhubaneswar and other parts of Odisha hit by the cyclone.

Thousands of passengers stranded at Bhubaneswar station say uncertainty bothers them more than the delay in departures and arrivals. Das, a resident of Jharkhand, calmly fields hundreds of queries from such passengers.

He has every train’s timing, every cancellation and diversion at the tip of his tongue.

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A young girl walks in and says that she remembers her train, but not her coach and seat numbers. She says she cannot board other coaches as they are oveloaded and the stressed passengers are shouting at “trespassers”. This time, Das has no solution.

If Das is engaged in spreading information and preventing confusion, Sumanta Bhoi (24) is working to restore power supply across the city.

A personnel of the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force, Sumanta is on the frontline of efforts to disentangle power cables from branches of trees uprooted in the cyclone.

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Clad in bright orange uniform, Sumanta’s task is tedious and intricate. He has to balance a 20-inch motorised blade at one end of a fifteen-foot-long pole and saw away at small twigs while trying his best not to slice the cable.

“I have been doing this task for 12-15 hours a day, as long as there is daylight,” says Sumanta, who hails from Koraput.

About 33 km from where Sumanta is working is the Nandankanan Zoo, where animals agitated by the cyclone are now being calmed.

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Ashok Das (40) is the sanctuary manager here and is leading the efforts to comfort the 3,519 animals who now need food and emotional support to recover. Das and his team are now camping next to the keepers’ sheds in various animal enclosures.

“The premises have suffered damage of nearly Rs 3 crore. The animals’ safety and mental state is another matter,” he says.

His team has been able to resume food supplies for the animals, which include 27 tigers, 12 lions and a giraffe. This was accomplished by clearing all roads and restoration of water supply to enclosures inside the zoo’s property by Saturday evening.

First published on: 06-05-2019 at 03:14:02 am
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