Chhatrapur, Oct 20:
‘‘Babu, we have lost everything to the cyclone. Except for the clothes on our bodies, we have nothing left in our homes. We have lost everything we had: our houses, rice and money. The only thing that is left is the life in our bodies”, says a distraught CH Raju of Podampetta village.
Podampetta in Palibandh panchayat under Ganjam block is hardly at a distance of 30 meters from the sea. The village has 300 houses with a population of 2000. The entire village ekes out its living from fishing in the high seas.
“We came to know about the cyclone from radio and television on 10th, but took it lightly. We were scared when the district administration constantly warned of the perils of the impending cyclone through the public address system”, says Raju.
The administration on Friday afternoon forced villagers to leave the village and move to a nearby cyclone shelter at Kantiagada. The cyclone shelter was home to around 2,000 villagers, including children and women. From Saturday morning, it started raining and the wind gathered speed. “The night, when the cyclone Phailin was at its peak, was horrifying,” recollects Raju.
“What was left in Podampetta the morning after was the rubble of 200 thatched and asbestos roofed houses, uprooted trees and mangled electric poles; household goods crushed and lost under razed walls. Coconut palms and cashew plantations – everything was destroyed,” say CH Garamma and G Arreya.
“We have been residing in this village for generations, but had never witnessed such fury of the sea. This time, it was even stronger than the 1999 super cyclone”, they said.
Phailin has wreaked havoc to the livelihoods of 90 per cent of the villagers.
A week after the cyclone, the sea is no longer roaring the way it did on that fateful night of Saturday. People are back in the village trying to gather pieces of their shattered lives from whatever is left after Phailin left the village.
Most of the villagers are jobless with their boats and fishing nets destroyed in the cyclone. The lucky few whose boats and nets were spared by Phailin have begun venturing into the seas again to get their catch.
No sarkari babu has visited the village till date barring a revenue inspector, claim the villagers. With no electricity in the village, women have to trudge two kilometres to the Goteswar temple to fetch drinking water by digging chuas. There is no road to the village; one has to cross a small nullah by boat to reach the village.
This is how Podampetta is limping back to normal after Phailin hit the village.
It may be noted that two enclaves of the village has earlier been devoured by the sea and Cyclone Phailin has left the villagers terrorized.