Another storm kills 39 in a district and keeps me busy!
I have begun to say to myself: "Anywhere in Bengal there is a disaster, it is a disaster to me!" Personally I have grown in the last 14 years of public life, and specially in the last 7 years, managing disasters from ground zero. The disasters have made me appreciate the health and safety I have, and also become humble and humane to empathize with the pain and agony of those who have lost their loved ones, homes, and livelihoods due to natural calamities.
At least 76 people were killed and more than 200 injured when a severe Nor'wester packed with a windspeed of 125 kmph raged for 40 minutes through North Dinajpur district of West Bengal, four neighbouring districts of Bihar and five of Assam last night.While 39 people were killed in North Dinajpur alone, (where I worked for 12 years!) , 33 perished in four districts of Kishanganj, Araria, Supaul and Purnia in Bihar in the storm. West Bengal chief secretary Mr Ashok Mohan Chakrabarti, reporters in Kolkata that the storm leveled 50,000-60,000 dwelling units. Later in the evening, reports suggested total destruction of 20,000 houses and partial destruction of 25,000 houses. Tin and thatched roofs were wrenched off and hurled at a distance in villages lining both sides of the National Highway in North Dinajpur. Bamboo groves in more than 500 sq-ft. area at one village was completely uprooted as the storm ripped through Kaliaganj, Raiganj, Karandighi and Hemtabad blocks in North Dinajpur, civil defence minister Mr Sreekumar Mukherjee said. The storm, which was accompanied by rain, uprooted thousands of trees and left telephone and electric poles twisted, he said.Around 50,000 dwellings were destroyed rendering hundreds of people homeless in the district while the police barracks in Raiganj was destroyed, he said. Mr Chakraborti said the Centre had offered help to the state government. “I contacted the cabinet secretary to brief him. The Centre has enquired about the devastation. The Centre is willing to assist the state government,” Mr Chakraborti said. He said Rs 5 lakh had been disbursed from the Calamity Relief Fund for the affected people.The government has approved the release of 25,000 tarpaulin sheets, 1,000 tonne of rice, dry food, tarpaulin sheets, dhotis, saris and children's garments for the affected villages. Drinking water was also being sent, while five medical teams left for the spot.
And I spent the whole day, collecting information, putting together a team for emergency needs assessment, and generating Situation Reports.