Leaving behind a trail of destruction, including uprooting of trees and damaging power lines, and taking the casualties to three in various rain-related incidents in Visakhapatnam and Srikakulam districts of Andhra Pradesh, Cyclone Hudhud crossed the coast at Pudimadaka village, about 50 kilometre from Visakhapatnam, on Sunday afternoon.
“The cyclone winds were gusting 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,” IYR Krishna Rao, chief secretary and commissioner (disaster management), Andhra Pradesh, told mediapersons here today.
Normal life was completely thrown out of gear as winds with a speed of between 180 kmph and 200 kmph battered Visakhapatnam and its neighbouring Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts after Cyclone Hudhud made a landfall at around 2 pm today.
Hudhud, with strong winds, high tides and heavy rains that slammed Vizag, is considered to be the most disastrous cyclone that the port city had ever seen. “The worst is over. However, electricity and communication networks are expected to be restored only after two to three days,” an AP government official said.
Rao said that people of Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts had been requested to stay back at their homes and if the walls of their houses were weak, they could shift to cyclone relief shelters.
Officials said that the intensity of Cyclone Hudhud in Vizag, Srikakulam, East Godavari and Vizianagaram districts was expected to be weakened by today evening, before moving northwestwards across south interior Odisha and Chhattisgarh.
The Andhra Pradesh government had identified 356 villages in 59 mandals o the four districts – Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram, Srikakulam and East Godavari – as cyclone-prone and had opened over 300 relief camps.
At a review meeting held at his Secretariat in Hyderabad on Sunday, Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu said his government took measures to prevent loss of life and provide quick relief to people affected by Cyclone Hudhud.
“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,” Naidu said, adding that he would visit the cyclone-affected districts at the earliest.
Stating that the communication networks had been severely damaged in the port city of Vizag, the chief minister said telecom operators were asked to restore services as early as possible.
Briefing Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Cyclone Hudhud over phone today, 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.
The Andhra Pradesh has developed a mobile app to provide information to the people, assess the damage and provide relief. Besides, it has set up a government control room with toll-free numbers 180042500002 (Visakhapatnam), 18004256625 (Srikakulam) and 1070 for Vizianagaram.
According the chief minister, Cyclone Hudhud had caused severe damage to paddy, coconut and cashew-nut crops in the affected districts of Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts. “The extent of the damages, however, are yet to be assessed,” he said.
Meanwhile, South Central Railway (SCR) has cancelled about 62 trains in north coastal Andhra and diverted 51 trains to various other routes owing to Cyclone Hudhud.