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India cyclone: Oxfam and partners rush to protect lives

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In the aftermath of Cyclone Phailin, men gather to view damage to fishing boats. Photo: Hindustan Times / Getty Images
In the aftermath of Cyclone Phailin, men gather to view damage to fishing boats. Photo: Hindustan Times / Getty Images

As Cyclone Phailin bore down on the coast of India, hundreds of thousands of people spent the night in shelters, safe from flooding and the hazards of hurricane-force winds. The evacuation effort carried out by communities and the government – with the help of local organizations like Oxfam’s partners – is credited with saving countless lives.

Now, as the wind and rain ease, many families are starting to return to their communities, and Oxfam staff are on the ground, assessing the damage in hard-hit areas.

“Roads are blocked by fallen trees, and communication and power lines are down,” said Zubin Zaman, Humanitarian Program Manager for Oxfam India. “Damage to buildings is widespread, and so is the impact on the crops of the region. There are reports of damage to fishing boats and nets in Puri and Ganjam districts in Odisha.”

Clearing debris and restoring communications are critical, as is providing shelter: the cyclone demolished the fragile mud-and-thatch houses in coastal villages. And with wells contaminated by the floods, clean drinking water is a major concern for people living in low-lying areas.

Oxfam has contingency stocks of tarps for shelter, and water and sanitation materials nearby and ready to deploy – enough to quickly distribute to 30,000 people – with the goal of preventing outbreaks of deadly waterborne disease.

So, with the evacuation behind us, Oxfam and the communities have another race to run.

As we help vulnerable communities recover, we need all the help we can get from supporters like you. Donate to the Cyclone Phailin Relief and Recovery Fund.

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