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About three weeks ago, people in Bhubaneswar, Puri and many coastal villages and towns in Odisha were bracing for something that was coming towards them with a catastrophic force. IMD had already changed the status of Fani as an extremely severe cyclonic storm that was to hit the Odisha and West Bengal coastline at more than 200kmph. Two weeks after the cyclone made its landfall we were here in Odisha driving the Renault Kwid to Puri on the India Diamond Trail.
A similar cyclone hit Odisha in 1999 when hundreds of lives were lost. This time though, climate monitoring systems and the Odisha govt. had started evacuation well ahead of cyclone Fani’s landfall. Infrastructure destruction, however, couldn’t be avoided. As we drove the Renault Kwid through Puri, we saw thousands of electricity poles and mobile phone towers destroyed while acres of paddy fields were destroyed. Trees which looked like they’ve existed eternally were uprooted entirely. And in spite of all this, life in Puri seemed like it was limping back to normalcy. There were thousands who had come to visit the famous Jagannath Puri temple and restoration of houses, huts and electricity lines was underway.
A local lad told us that food and water had suddenly become scarce after the cyclone and whatever was available was sold for five times the original price. Well, we hope that life in Odisha returns to normal as soon as possible. Our next stop on the India Diamond Trail driving the Renault Kwid is Kolkata. Stay tuned.