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Vizag lost in the storm; Andhra starts relief operations

13 October 2014

Life started limping back to normalcy in the cyclone devastated coastal city of Visakhapatnam and across the coastal areas of Andhra on Monday morning, with people seen queuing up for petrol, milk and other necessities at distribution points.

Cyclone HudhudWhile milk was simply not available and ATMs were not functioning, long queues were seen in front of petrol bunks.

With the rain and gales abating, people were seen on the roads littered with all sorts of debris - tangled electric wires and cable wires, uprooted trees and electric poles and signboards torn apart by the fury of wind.

At several places people were seen cutting tree branches and clearing the roads for two-wheelers.

S S Guleria, deputy inspector general of the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) said many people have lost their homes and cyclone relief centres will continue to run for now.

As many as five lakh people are being provided shelter in relief camps, Parakala Prabhakar, Advisor (Communications) to the AP government, told reporters in Hyderabad.

A day after Cyclone Hudhud slammed into the Andhra Pradesh coast with wind speeds touching 200 kmph, bringing heavy rain and tearing down the port city, Guleria said with an estimated damage of about 70 to 80 per cent, Vizag would have to be built all anew.

The cyclonic storm Hudhud crossed the coast at Pudimadaka village in Visakhapatnam district on Sunday afternoon after destroying almost all houses besides pulling down the airport structures, besides wrecking havoc in the entire district.

There is no electricity in Vizag and telephone lines are down. Power supply was switched off late on Saturday, as precaution, and the storm later knocked down the network, pulling down and damaging electricity poles and towers across Visakhapatnam and Srikakulam districts.

The Visakhapatnam airport is closed, with damage to the roof and water logging reported. Restoration of services will take time, officials said.

"It may take at least three to four days for resuming banking services. If the communication network is restored, we can resume the services on generators. We have power back-up, and our priority is to resume the ATM services at least as quickly as possible,'' said P Ravi Ramana, the Assistant General Manager at Andhra Bank zonal office.

The cyclonic storm brought similar destruction in the two north-coastal districts of Srikakulam and Vizianagaram, although the impact of the cyclonic storm was less felt by the people of East Godavari. Three casualties were reported form the areas.

Officials of Andhra Pradesh Eastern Power Distribution Company Limited (APEPDCL) said power lines in the districts of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam and East Godavari were totally disrupted. More than 40,000 electric poles, including 12,000 in Visakhapatnam alone, were badly damaged.

"It may take some time to restore the power," he said, without specifying a timeframe.

Andhra Bank, which has 90 branches in Visakhapatnam and Vizianagaram districts, said none of the brances were functioning and even the mobile ATM of the bank was damaged at the zonal office at Seethammadhara as an uprooted tree fell on it.

Port operations were suspended at Visakhapatnam and Gangavaram ports on Sunday due to the cyclone, and power generation was affected at the Simhadri thermal power station of NTPC.

Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu will be arriving in Visakhapatnam to oversee the relief operations. Speaking to reporters in Rajahmundry, he said the government's priority was to restore access to all the affected villages, establishing communication networks and taking care of those provided shelter.

Naidu, who also undertook an aerial survey of the affected areas today, instructed the officials to prepare over five lakh food packets for distribution in cyclone-affected East Godavari, West Godavari, Vizinagaram, Srikakulam and Visakhapatnam districts.

"The work for preparation of food packets has already commenced. The packets will be dispatched shortly to Visakhapatnam through special choppers," Naidu said.

Besides, each cyclone affected family is being provided with 25 kg of rice and five litres of kerosene.

He said 500 nodal officers has been appointed to assess the damage caused in each district, adding that collectors of the five affected districts have been asked to prepare a comprehensive plan on damages and submit it to the government to know the extent of devastation.

The state government has appointed five teams of senior IAS officials to supervise the relief operations and to restore communication and other systems.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said this morning he will visit Visakhapatnam, which bore the brunt of the cyclone's fury, on Tuesday.

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