Restoring power supplies and telecommunication links emerged as a bigger challenge in cyclone-hit Odisha on 13-10-2013, even as the severe tropical storm turned out to be much less devastating than feared.India's strongest storm in 14 years left a trail of destruction along the country's east coast on Sunday, but little loss of life was reported after close to a million people took refuge in shelters.
At least 873,000 people in Odisha and adjacent Andhra Pradesh spent the night in shelters, some of which had been built after a 1999 storm killed 10,000 in the same area. Others sought safety in schools or temples, in an exercise disaster management officials called one of India's largest evacuations.
Both Bhubaneswar and Cuttack remained in darkness as power lines were switched off as the storm kept building up through the day. Dr S C Mallick, director, Capital Hospital, confirmed the death of the 65 year old woman and said, "All our doctors and paramedical staff are on duty at the hospital. A 24X7 control room has been started to deal with exigencies. Unlike the rest of the city, hospitals have power. Medicine stocks, water and stretchers are ready," he said.
Electricity supply was disrupted in both Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. "Trees were uprooted and fell on transmission lines. Our feeders were affected for which we had to disconnect electricity. Our teams are cutting the trees. But there is clear instructions to all field officers to disconnect electricity in all 33/11 KV substations as soon as wind speed crosses 50 to 60 kmph," said chief operating officer of CESU, Utpal Sinha.
The cyclone has destroyed railway signals and high-tension electricity wires and uprooted tracks and railway platforms at various stations, bringing rail services in the region to a halt. "More than 100 trains have been cancelled in Bhadrak, Puri and Palasa sections while at least 25 other trains have been diverted," East Coast Railway spokesperson Anil Saxena said today. The airport in capital Bhubaneswar was also closed yesterday and 10 flights were cancelled.