Monday, 16 December 2019

Port City Visakhapatnam Hit By Cyclonic Storm Hudhud

Updated: November 8, 2014 1:57 pm

Andhra Pradesh state government has launched on war footing relief activities in the affected areas. Chandrababu Naidu has started functioning from Visakhapatnam itself to monitor relief activities personally

The Hudhud cyclone, with wind speeds reaching up to almost 200 kmph—unprecedented and unheard that caused disastrous impact on the port city of Visakhapatnam—made landfall at Pudimadaka close to the steel city around noon on October 12, 2014. Visakhapatnam bore the brunt of the havoc, while the storm caused widespread damage in the north coastal districts of Srikakulam and Vizinagaram too. Tidal waves hit the beach in the port city.

Tidal waves of about 3-4 metres presented a frightening picture on the Ramakrishna beach and at places, the sea water surged onto the road. The Cyclone Warning Centre in the city was rendered useless with rainwater flooding it. The telecommunication network almost broke down, even in the city.

The port city of Visakhapatnam, home to 25 lakh people and a major naval base, was mauled as the cyclone made landfall with a wind speed of 200 kmph, damaging almost everything in its way. Normal life was thrown completely out of gear. Heavy rains have inundated low-lying areas.

Gusty winds, uprooted trees, torn roofs of hutments and sheds and snapped electric cables bore testimony to the impact of severe cyclonic storm. Several areas are reeling under darkness for the last many hours without power which also affected water supply and other essentials.

The wind velocity was so strong that it shook apartment buildings, leaving cracks in them; communication towers were uprooted and glass windows of apartments, commercial establishments and hundreds of cars were shattered. Normal life came to standstill in the region with people forced to remain indoors. Visakhapatnam was the worst-hit and resembled a ghost city by evening with trees, hoardings and electric poles fallen across almost every street. The incessant and heavy rain since morning meant poor visibility. There was no vehicular movement anywhere, with authorities closing the Kolkata-Chennai NH between Kakinada and Itchapuram.

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Roads wore a deserted look. Break down in power, communication and cable lines made mobile phones stop ringing and televisions go blank. Only radio stood out in the crisis in reaching out to the people at the other end who were eager to know what is happening around.

With power supply cut off for about four days in the entire coastal belt—from Srikakulam to East Godavari—had a harrowing time. The entire region, enveloped in darkness, was being battered by heavy rain, even though the cyclone, according to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), lost some muscle and had crossed Visakhapatnam. Communication network like highways, railway lines and telecom services disrupted badly.

Chandrababu Naidu seek to declare as ‘national calamity’

Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, who monitored the situation and the government’s response throughout the day, shot off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking an ad-hoc grant of Rs 2,000 crore as immediate relief. He has urged the Centre to treat the devastation caused by severe cyclonic storm, Hudhud as a ‘national calamity’.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who visited the worst-affected parts in the city and made an aerial survey of the affected areas on October 14, announced Rs.1,000 crore as an interim relief . He also declared Rs.2 lakh from Prime Minister’s Relief Fund for families of each of those killed and Rs.50,000 to every injured.

He expressed concern that the cyclone caused huge losses at a time when he was planning to develop Visakhapatnam into a smart city. He, however, exuded confidence that the central and state government will work together to overcome the challenge. The Prime Minister said that the central government officials from various ministries would soon tour the region to assess damage and start work to restore normalcy, Modi told reporters. He said that restoring the basic needs of life like water and electricity were government’s immediate priorities.

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Hailing the exact forecast about the cylone made by the Met Department, the Prime Minister said the “perfect” use of technology prepared by both union as well as state governments to deal with the cyclone as from its timing to velocity and direction, all details were predicted accurately in advance.”In a way, technology has played an important role in dealing with the crisis,” he added

Though intense precautions helped to save lives, 25 people were killed in wall collapse and uprooting of trees as the severe cyclonic storm, Hudhud crossed the coast near Pudimadaka in Visakhapat-nam which bore the brunt of the devastation.

As many as 320 villages in 44 mandals of Visakhaptnam, Vizianagaram, Srikakulam and East Godavari districts have been affected. A large number of about five lakh people have been shifted to relief camps, while 24 NDRF teams have been deployed. The authorities pressed six helicopters and deployed 56 boats/ launches and 155 medical teams in the affected districts. Two army columns too were deployed.

Immediately after the storm, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call came when Naidu was in the middle of a press conference. Thanking Modi, he said ‘Government of India has done extremely well Sir’. He informed the Prime Minister that he would leave for Visakhapatnam this evening and keep him posted of the developments. He assured him that the situation would be analysed and rescue and rehabilitation measures would be launched.

Devastation for power transmission system

It has been complete devastation for the power transmission system. Right from power generating station at Simhadri to the entire power grid supplying to AP Ttransco, to each of the end pole is damaged. There were power blackouts in Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts as the entire transmission machinery tailed. The 200 kmph gale was highly destructive for the poles and the power machinery. Generally a pole can stand up to 140 kmph winds. “The impact is worse than that of the ‘97 cyclone,” said energy secretary of AP Ajay Jain. Damages to the power transmission machinery are expected to be very high, especially in Vishakhapatnam. Meanwhile, all four units of NTPC, Simhadri were shut down due to transmission machinery going haywire. This led to 2,000 MW of thermal power generation being put on hold. The major destruction was caused by the winds that scythed through the coast from Kakinada to Itchapuram in Andhra Pradesh. The fishermen are the worst hit, with their boats and fishing nets having been washed away.

According to preliminary estimations, about one lakh houses suffered damages and railway track of about 70-80 km, is said to have got damaged in the three districts. The roof of the airport terminal also suffered damages. Rivers and streams are overflowing. Officials say that if the water levels in Sarada river continues to rise, Anakapalli may get flooded.

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War footing relief activities

Andhra Pradesh state government has launched on war footing relief activities in the affected areas. Chandrababu Naidu has started functioning from Visakhapatnam itself to monitor relief activities personally and also directed his cabinet colleagues and senior officers to follow him. The government has deputed several IAS officers to affected districts to monitor relief operations.

Naidu has appealed to governments of Tamil Nadu and Odisha to lend a hand in restoring power supply in the state. He said the situation would be analysed and rescue and rehabilitation measures would be launched mobilising men and materials and normalcy would be restored.

He said road openings, restoration of power supply and communication lines are high on the agenda of the government besides rescue and relief operations. As rain water entered into the Visakhapatnam airport, several flights were cancelled and efforts are on for restoration of services. Rail and road traffic is yet to be restored.

The government mobilised essentials like vegetables, food packets and milk from neighboring districts.

It arranged to supply all vegetables at a price of Rs 3 per kg, onions and potatos at Rs 5 per kg. Milk production was restored using powerful generators.

According to preliminary estimates, the damages would be Rs 60,000 crore to Rs 1 lakh crore. The Navy estimated a loss of Rs 2,000 crore, it was Rs 500 crore to Airport and Rs 400 crore to Steel Plant.

By C h Narendra from Hyderabad

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