As powerful Cyclone Phailin made landfall near the town of Gopalpur, in eastern India’s Odisha state on Saturday, International Medical Corps continues taking steps toward a possible emergency response, including mobilizing its emergency response unit, activating regional staff, readying stockpiles of medicines and essential supplies, contacting local partners and networks and offering assistance to the UN and Indian authorities.
By Saturday evening local time heavy rains and destructive winds were battering India’s eastern coastline.
Nearly 500,000 people in the states of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh were forced to evacuate and thousands more are taking shelter as the massive storm moves further inland.
Officials in both states have pre-positioned emergency food supplies and set up shelters for evacuees. The Indian military has put some of its forces on alert, and has transport ready for relief operations.
The storm is expected to cause large-scale power and communications outages and shut down road and rail links, officials said. It’s also expected to cause extensive damage to crops.
Phailin was expected to be the strongest tropical cyclone to affect India in 14 years. Indian authorities warned 12 million people were at risk, and they are warning of extensive damage to old buildings and homes made of mud and bamboo. People in affected areas are also at risk from flying debris, as well as the flooding of escape routes.
International Medical Corps has been a first-responder to numerous natural disasters in Asia, including the tsunami in Japan two years ago, the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.