DISASTER RELIEF MOVES INLAND TO DEATH AND DEVASTATION LEFT IN STORM'S PATH
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CARROLLTON, Texas – Gospel for Asia (GFA) Compassion Services disaster relief teams were among the first to reach victims on India’s east coast after Phailin made landfall as one of the largest cyclones ever generated in the Bay of Bengal. Immediate supplies of clean water and food were distributed to victims, who have lost homes, livelihoods, crops and livestock.
While aid continues in the coastal areas of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, where hundreds of thousands have been displaced, GFA disaster relief teams have also followed Phailin’s path of devastation inland to the Indian state of Bihar, which included flooding, uprooted trees and loss of communication and electricity.
“GFA Compassion Services teams traveled 12 hours through roads flooded and blocked by fallen trees to be the first responders in one of the hardest hit areas on the Odisha coast,” said Dr. K. P. Yohannan, GFA founder and president. “They discovered people filled with despair, devoid of all hope, and reached out to them with lifesaving supplies and the hope that only Jesus can bring.”
Reports from Compassion Services teams indicate that more than 500 GFA believers in Odisha alone have lost their mud houses, along with thousands of their neighbors. Most are trying to work on their homes during the day and returning to relief camps at night.
Wrecked fishing boats and nets, and one million acres of lost crops across Odisha and Andhra Pradesh mean loss of livelihood for thousands. “Most of our believers are dependent upon agriculture and do not know what they will do now,” according to one onsite GFA representative.
The agricultural loss in these states, especially of rice, is anticipated to affect the food supply throughout India. Downed power lines causing lack of electricity, communication and transportation has created additional havoc. Medical aid is in short supply.
Despite being downgrading to a category 1 storm as it moved inland across a large portion of northeast India, Phailin continued a path of destruction. In Bihar, 15 people were reported dead. GFA teams discovered the homes of nine GFA pastors were among the thousands of homes damaged or destroyed from flooding and high winds.
Cyclone Phailin made landfall Saturday evening, Oct. 12, as a category 4 storm, leaving 17 people dead, and more than 500,000 people homeless and currently in relief camps in Odisha alone, according to state officials. Nearly one million people were evacuated from Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, and an estimated nine million people are victims of the storm in some way.
The government has guaranteed initial relief of a few days of food. GFA relief teams are working to meet basic needs by distributing clean water, medical supplies, clothing and family food packs of rice, salt, oil, potatoes and matchsticks.
“The recovery process stretches months, perhaps even years, into the future for these people who have endured devastating loss,” said Yohannan. “We must not forsake them in their desperate suffering. We will continue to take to them the love of Jesus as we help them rebuild their lives and find new hope.”
To learn more about the effects of Cyclone Phailin and to donate to the relief efforts, visit http://www.gfa.org/cyclone/phailin/.
Gospel for Asia (www.gfa.org) is a mission organization based in Carrollton, Texas, involved in sharing the love of Jesus across South Asia.