Is Odisha ready for Phailin?

By | October 12, 2013

The Odisha state Government seems to be doing much better than in 1999 which left more than 10,000 dead across the coastal areas of the state and an estimated USD 4.5 Billion in damages. People from low lying areas are being evacuated. Essentials stockpiled in schools and other buildings on higher ground. The disaster recovery folks seem to be doing their job but how good are their plans and the execution? Only time will tell of course but Indian Governments have a very poor record of managing such disasters. We can only hope that the Government of Navin Patnaik has learned a lesson from the last super cyclone and actually have a plan in place to handle the aftermath of what Phailin will throw at my poor state tomorrow.

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Phailin is expected to keep growing, both is size and strength, till landfall, which at this time is expected to happen later today in and around Berhampur and Gopalpur, at the strength of a Category 5 Cyclone, which is the top of the scale. This forecast might actually be conservative. During this time of the year the waters of the Bay of Bengal are rather warn, approx 28 C and this is a recipe for rapid intensification of tropical cyclones.

The official Indian meteorological services seems to be having trouble following the cyclone. Their predictions of are much lower than what is being observed and measured from satellite imagery. India does not have “Hurricane Hunter” airplanes that could actually measure the intensity of the cyclone and must rely on other means of measurement.

I hope the Government is not trying to keep details from the populace in an misguided effort to avoid “panic”. The people need to know what is bearing down on them from the sea and to judge for themselves how best to safeguard themselves. Knowing is half the battle won. Ignorance can get people killed.

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