Over 100 kilometres from the coast,the villages in interior Ganjam district thought they would escape Cyclone Phailin. But the high speed winds and heavy rainfall destroyed their houses.
We never thought the cyclone would affect us. In 1999 too,we did not face any problems. For the first time,I saw such high speed winds. The torrential rain made it worse, said Khadala Nayak,naib sarpanch of Inginati village in Belaguntha block. At least four other villages in the block have been affected.
It started raining on October 11. The next day,water from Boda river started spilling over the embankment. At night,when the winds raged,the embankment was breached. As water swirled around my house,the roof was blown away, said Nakula,a sharecropper in Ratanga village,as he queued up for polythene rolls being distributed as part of the relief measures.
Sariapalli,Ostapalli and Mandara are the other three villages which have been affected. Villagers said they did not receive any warnings about a cyclone or floods. While Ratanga was accessible on Tuesday,the other four villages remained out of bounds.
Meanwhile,CM Naveen Patnaik announced ex-gratia assistance of Rs 4 lakh to the next of kin of each of the 31 victims. PM Manmohan Singh has also announced Rs 2 lakh to each victims family,and Rs 50,000 for those injured.
Though the Ganjam district administration had said that distribution of foodgrain would start Tuesday,most of the gram panchayat headquarters did not get the rice. Sources said the extra staff assigned to the district were yet to report for duty. The government was also finding it difficult to requisition 4,000 trucks needed to send the foodgrain to the affected areas.
Officials said while Ganjam requires about 4.5 lakh polythene rolls to provide shelters to those whose houses were damaged,it has received only 1 lakh rolls so far.
Power supply was yet to be restored to most parts of Ganjam. We will resume supply of power to hospitals and drinking water pumping systems by Wednesday, said District Collector Dr Krishan Kumar.
Official sources pegged the loss suffered in Ganjam district at Rs 3,150 crore.