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Cyclone Hudhud: Andhra takes the brunt, Odisha braces for floods

Although there was no major damage in Odisha from Cyclone Hudhud on Sunday, the threat of large-scale flooding loomed large in the southern Odisha districts of Ganjam, Gajapati and Kandhamal, with major rivers in spate following incessant rain under the influence of the storm.

Three people have died in cyclone-related incidents in the state, according to Special Relief Commissioner P K Mohapatra. These casualties – two in Puri and one in Kendrapara district – occurred on Saturday, a day before the cyclone struck the coast, owing to drowning and wall collapse.

Three people died in Andhra Pradesh, according to a PTI report.

With heavy rainfall reported in all southern districts of the state – expected to continue for another 48 hours – the prospect of flooding of some major rivers and damage to people living downstream is imminent.

“For the cyclone, we had plans to evacuate 350,000 people from vulnerable areas. However, we evacuated 156,000 in nine districts as the impact of Hudhud in the state was limited. If there is flood due to storm-induced downpour, we can evacuate more people as the situation demands,” said Mohapatra.

According to him, there will be considerable improvement in the situation once the cyclone system passes over the state by midnight on Sunday. He said no major damage to road communication or power infrastructure has been reported from any area, although there was some disruption in power supply in some south Odisha pockets. Power supply will be restored in these areas soon, he added.

While the water level of River Vamsadhara was flowing near its danger mark at Kasinagar in Gajapati district on Sunday, water level in other rivers such as Rushikulya is rising at Sorada, Purushottampur and Aska in Ganjam district. The Vamsadhara was flowing at 54.10 metres at Kasinagar, close to its danger mark of 54.60 metres, sources said.

“We have identified some flood-prone areas to evacuate the people, if the flood situation arises,” said Ganjam District Collector Prem Chandra Chaudhary.

3 killed in Andhra Pradesh
Three people were killed in rain-related incidents in the Visakhapatnam and Srikakulam districts of Andhra Pradesh as the cyclone crossed the coast at Pudimadaka village, about 50 km from Visakhapatnam, on Sunday.

“The winds were blowing up to 200 kmph, causing uprooting of trees and damaging electrical poles and cellular towers. Electrical and communication networks have been affected on account of this,” I Y R Krishna Rao, chief secretary and commissioner (disaster management), told reporters in Hyderabad on Sunday.

Normal life was thrown out of gear as winds at 180-200 kmph speed battered Visakhapatnam and its neighbouring Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts after the cyclone made a landfall at around 2 pm on Sunday.

“The worst is over. However, electricity and communication networks are expected to be restored only after two to three days,” said an AP government official. Rao said people of Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts had been requested to stay at their homes and if the walls of their houses were weak, they could shift to cyclone relief shelters.

The Andhra government had identified 356 villages in 59 mandals of Visakhapatnam, Vizag, Srikakulam and East Godavari districts as cyclone-prone and had opened over 300 relief camps.

“In spite of our efforts to prevent loss of life, three persons died in rain-affected incidents. However, our administration had minimised the loss to the maximum extent,” said Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu.

Stating communication networks had been severely damaged in the port city of Vizag, Naidu said telecom operators were asked to restore services as early as possible. Briefing Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Cyclone Hudhud over phone Sunday, Naidu asked Modi to declare Hudhud as a national calamity. “The Union home minister is talking to me three-four times in a day. I am very thankful to the Centre. They have assured us of all possible help, and I will be writing a letter to the Centre to declare Hudhud as a national calamity,” Naidu said.

Odisha to help Andhra
The Odisha government is preparing to assist Andhra Pradesh in restoring road and power communications in storm-hit Visakhapatnam and its adjoining areas.

During a video conference with the Union Cabinet Secretary on Sunday, the Andhra chief secretary said Odisha should provide manpower assistance in clearing the roads that were cut off due to uprooting of trees and restoring power supplies.

“Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik will take a call on what kind of assistance can be provided in response to the demands made by Andhra Pradesh. We will certainly take some steps to reciprocate the generosity shown by them during 1999 super cyclone in Odisha,” said Mohapatra, special relief commissioner of Odisha at a press conference here.

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