Shelter for families displaced by Cyclone Phailin

India, November 4, 2013

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  • People sit on the roof of a house after Cyclone Phailin hit Brahmapur town in Ganjam district in the eastern Indian state of Odisha on October 13. India's strongest storm in 14 years left a trail of destruction along the country's east coast, but little loss of life was reported after close to a million people took refuge in shelters. Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi, courtesy Trust.org
  • A woman stands outside her damaged house. Mercy Corps teams found nearly 60 percent of homes were damaged or destroyed. Photo: Reuters/Ahmed Masood, courtesy Trust.org

Last month, Cyclone Phailin hit the eastern coast of India with 140 mph winds and torrential rain. It was the worst storm that India has seen in 14 years, flooding local rivers, submerging roads and homes, and decimating crops.

Government efforts to evacuate nearly one million people from coastal areas prior to the storm saved lives, but as many as 60 percent of shelters — most mud houses with thatched roofs — in the hardest-hit communities were damaged or destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of families have been displaced or stranded in remote, inland areas.

Mercy Corps teams quickly traveled to the hardest-to-reach areas of Odisha state to assess needs.

As winter approaches, it is critical for families to have shelter from increasing rains. Thanks to support from the Vista Hermosa Foundation, we'll distribute emergency materials like tarpaulins, bamboo and rope purchased from local vendors — to help boost the businesses that have also been hurt by the cyclone. Our goal is to equip 2,000 families with adequate shelter.

The storm also dismantled the electric system, leaving even the homes still standing without power. Lingering flood waters have also contaminated drinking water.

We’ll also be distributing vital supplies including water purifiers, kitchen utensils, bedding and solar lighting systems so that household activities can continue in the absence of electricity.

While we focus on long-term development efforts in some of the most neglected northern communities — working to improve agricultural incomes, health services and educational opportunities — our teams are always ready to act in crisis.

Mercy Corps has worked in India since 2001, responding to emergency needs after the Gujarat earthquake and the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2005. Last year, we provided basics to families displaced by conflict and flooding in Assam, and are now helping them resettle and restart their farms.

Likewise, we will be there to help families in Odisha through this crisis and stay to help them rebuild their lives.

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