October 14, 2013 2:51:45 am
A red-and-white striped lighthouse standing on the popular beach here was the lone witness to the fury of the severe cyclone that drove everyone in this tiny village to desert their homes for the safety of shelters.
The lighthouse,which functions under the Union Department of Lighthouses and Lightships,is a crucial navigational guide for numerous ships frequenting the ocean and has dopplers and radar of both the Navy and Coast Guard. The wireless system at the lighthouse crackled all night Saturday with a small team of officials sending every information about the weather and ocean currents to their headquarters in Kolkata and to the disaster response centre in Delhi as the cyclone made landfall.
A team of four officials led by Junior Engineer (Civil),G K Pramod,manned the lighthouse the entire night as the world anxiously watched Phailin hit Indias east coast. We kept our headquarters in Kolkata informed about every development in the sea after 5 pm. The period between 10:30 pm and 11 pm was the most ferocious as the wind and water battered us, Pramod said.
The lighthouse stands right on Gopalpur beach and houses two families of staff members who work round the clock in different shifts.
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The structure of the lighthouse suffered minor damage while some trees on its premises were uprooted. A few sheds were also blown away. But that did not deter the staff from remaining at their posts. If we also deserted the area,who would have challenged the cyclone? It was our job to keep the authorities posted about the developments, said Pramod.
The lighthouse,which is also a radio beacon station,is the most crucial communication centre in this coastal area. We stood tall at the lighthouse when it mattered the most, said another employee on condition of anonymity.
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