Cyclone Fani has brought back horrid memories of the super cyclone in 1999 that claimed nearly 10,000 lives

Cyclone Fani has brought back horrid memories of the super cyclone in 1999 that claimed nearly 10,000 lives
A policeman helping in rescue efforts during Cyclone FaniPIB Odisha
  • Cyclone Fani has made its landfall in the eastern state of Odisha.
  • Fani is said to be the biggest cyclone to hit the state after the super cyclone in 1999.
  • The super cyclone had claimed nearly 10,000 lives.
I was seven-year-old when the super cyclone of 1999 hit my home state Odisha. Living in Cuttack, I remember the wailing sound of the wind, lightning and thunder, and hearing the walls of my otherwise sturdy two-storeyed home rumbling throughout the night. Electricity was gone for days and there were uprooted trees and broken down walls everywhere.

And now, almost 20 years later, another cyclone – Cyclone Fani – envelops the eastern State of Odisha. The wind speed at 200 kmph is just a few kmph short of the 1999 super cyclone, that claimed 10,000 lives.

On October 29, 1999, winds had started to pick up speed in the morning, many hadn’t believed the alerts of a severe cyclone and had failed to store food for days.

As the darkness fell and one of the longest nights of my childhood ensued, the howling of the winds still remains as a memory from a worst nightmare. The next morning we woke up to uprooted trees, a fallen boundary wall and water almost entering the house. But we were privileged and safe.

In the building next to ours, an empty house that belonged to a relative, doors had been opened for about a hundred people from the nearby slums to take refuge. They spent the night with barely any candles left to light the entire house but were also witness to a woman giving birth.


However, the capital city of Bhubaneswar and its twin city Cuttack were still not the high impact areas. The cyclone that lasted over 34 hours, found its major impact in the port city of Paradip and the districts of Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapada were among the worst affected. It destroyed over 25,000 houses, leaving the then Chief Minister of Odisha Giridhar Gamang also in shock as such devastation had not been seen. Reports suggested that the CM’s house was blocked with the fallen trees while the state secretariat too went without electricity for days.

But unlike 20 years ago, the Odisha government has learnt to be prepared. The state government said that around 900 cyclone shelters have been made ready to house the evacuees. "It is estimated that a total of 1150,000 people will have to be moved to safer areas, of which about 330,000 people have already been evacuated," a statement said. Flights from Bhubaneswar airport have been cancelled, while the Indian Coast Guard and the Navy have deployed ships and helicopters for relief and rescue operations while the Army and Air Force units in the states have also been put on standby.

See Also:
Cyclone Fani updates: Relief operations underway, 4,000 storm shelters set up in Odisha
Cyclone 'Fani' makes landfall on India’s East coast