Extremely severe cyclonic storm Fani battered the state devastating major cities like Puri, Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Konark May 3. While more than 60 people have lost their lives so far, thousands have become homeless. Life is yet to come back to normal in a number of places. At the same time, there are many who were far away from their home and had a tough time connecting with their families during and post the deadly storm, as communication systems were badly affected. Orissa POST caught up with a few who were frantically trying to get in touch with their families for days after the disaster.
Loren Mohapatra, a banker, who stays in Bangalore, says that it is always difficult to stay away from one’s family but particularly so when a natural disaster like Fani strikes. “I was perturbed since the day I learnt that the cyclone was going to make landfall in Puri where my family stays. I spoke to my mother early in the morning and went to office. However, I couldn’t concentrate on my work as news channels kept flashing images of the cyclone’s rampage. Social media too was abuzz with similar images. I tried to contact my family, but mobile phones had just stopped functioning. I couldn’t sleep for the next three nights and made all possible efforts to get in touch with them. Finally, on the fifth day, I managed to contact them, although the mobile signal was very weak. I was relieved to learn that they were safe. However, many in my village have taken refuge in shelter homes as the thatched and tin roofs of their homes were blown away completely,” says Loren.
Software engineer Jyotipraksh Panda lives in Bhubaneswar, while his parents stay in Puri. Although Bhubaneswar is only around 60 kilometres from Puri, Jyotiranjan had a tough time for the first five days as he could not contact his parents after the storm. “Fani wreaked havoc in Bhubaneswar too but I was more worried about my parents. I spoke to my parents a few minutes before the cyclone made landfall. Although everyone started panicking, no one could gauge the actual severity of the storm. I was very worried and wished that I had gone to my parents a day earlier so that I could have been there with them. Thank God, my family survived the calamity unharmed, but my village has been completely devastated,” says Jyotiranjan.
Jnanendra had come home to Cuttack from Bangalore to meet his family. He was to leave for Bangalore May 3 but anticipating flight disruptions owing to the cyclone decided to leave a day earlier. “I spoke to my father and sister the next morning and asked them to take preventive measures. I thought that Fani would pass like any other severe storm but like many others, I too was wrong. The tension started building up after I saw some horrifying images of the damage caused by Fani. I tried to reach out to my family, but the mobile networks had gone kaput by then. I was at a convocation ceremony when Fani was wreaking havoc in Odisha. I was physically in Bangalore, but my mind was in Odisha. I kept worrying for two days till my father called me up. He had just said that the situation was terrible, when the phone signal got disrupted. I learnt that there was no water and electricity from newspaper reports and felt helpless. Three days later, I managed to contact my family and was relieved to know that they were safe. Those five days were the worst days of my life,” he says.
BRATATI BARAL, OP