BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
Atlanta, GA, June 6, 2019: The deafening winds of Cyclone Fani hit India’s east coast on May 3 with the same deadly force as a category 4 hurricane leaving behind its trail of devastation. Claiming 49 lives in India so far, the rare summer cyclone has affected 15 million in the states of Odisha and West Bengal. As per initial estimates, at least 3 million people have lost their homes and livelihood. The cyclone has increased ocean water flow into Asia’s largest brackish water lake, Chilka, increasing threat to marine life. Torrential rain, gushing winds and razing ocean have damaged more than 500,000 houses, killed 3.4 million cattle and uprooted millions of trees. Power and telecom infrastructure across Odisha’s costal districts are with a trail of damaged homes, schools and businesses.
Swinging into action, Sewa International, along with its partner organizations UBSS (Utkal Biplane Sahayata Samiti) is operating 13 shelters in the three worst-affected districts of Puri, Khordha, and Cuttack. UBSS has served freshly cooked meals to more than 8,000 victims, along with distribution of food items including flattened rice, sugar, candy, dry food, cookies, drinking water, along with essentials such as medicine, tarpaulin sheets to cover damaged roofs, solar lights, ready-to-wear clothes, school supplies, candles, mosquito repellents and match boxes.
Well over 2,000 UBSS volunteers working in coastal towns and villages of Bhuvaneshwar, Puri, Khorda, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapada, Cuttack and Jajpur districts are trying to clear roads of debris and fallen trees. Sewa also initiated a medical camp, partnering with Odisha.
As Sriram, a high school student from Kakatpur awaits to fulfil his dream of building a robotics team at his school, derailed by Fani, far more serious issues engulf the victims including lack of electricity and water supply.
“Sewa has plans to open more shelters, and we continue efforts to serve victims. If you wish to donate, please visit https://sewausa.org/Donate,” said Swadesh Katoch, Sewa VP, Disaster Recovery.
Under ASPIRE project, with a team of 20 volunteers, Sewa International runs tutoring and mentoring sessions for 25 elementary students. Sewa is actively supports the Bhutanese community. The Atlanta Chapter has raised funds for all-natural disasters totaling to around $100k in last year. Sewa’s Family Services Services include ‘death and bereavement’, emergency services, workshops, counselling etc.