Cyclone Amphan West Bengal
Thurs, May 21st THE IMPACT OF CYCLONE AMPHAN ON RUPAMARI ISLAND
Cyclone Amphan approached the mainland through West Bengal from the Indian Ocean in late afternoon of 20th May. Evacuation operations to brick shelters were carried out in the effort to keep people safe during the impact, however the epidemic of covid-19 complicated evacuation, with the authorities trying to enforce the rules of social distancing.
Marilyn received the following update from our partner. She writes,
“By a real miracle our partner has managed to call me. The phone mast is down and he has no internet! It was not a particularly good line, but he says everyone is ok. There is a lot of damage everywhere; trees are down, and bamboo and mud huts are gone. Rupamari riverbank was breached and the island is flooded with saltwater. Most houses are gone but, praise God, the school is still standing. Only one side is damaged at the moment, but everyone is safe. Nanda kumar pur has seen lots of damage.
He is clearly upset and is desperate for the end of the current lockdown so that he can visit the islands where he has such an immense ministry. This is also dependent on the roads out of Kolkata being cleared from the debris of the cyclone.”
We are so saddened to see these images and cannot begin to imagine how the people of Rupamari are feeling. All the trustees, and many of you, have visited, stayed on the Island and were met with the love, warmth and kindness of both adults and children. For those who have not, the island consists of a network of raised mud walkways around large paddy fields and ponds in which fish and tiger prawns are cultivated and sold. As you can see, this recent cyclonic storm and water surge has breached the banks, rendered people homeless, and made agricultural land completely unusable for a few years due to the excess salt of the waters. The small freshwater ponds may have become too salty for the fish, which could die, causing further poverty and unemployment.
Because of the high water level of the river, the breached banks are unable to be rebuilt at this time, causing concern of the village experiencing further flooding at each high tide. On top of this, the monsoon season is imminent, threatening further destruction of those homes whose roofs have been compromised.
We asked our partner what he saw to be the most urgent need at the moment. He says the purchase and distribution of dried food is paramount, as the people are experiencing hunger having had their food-stock destroyed. Plastic sheeting is also a huge requirement in order for the villagers to be able to repair their roofs prior to monsoon season.
Once the lockdown is over, he will send us an estimate for the repair work of Rupamari School.
The Trustees have been communicating with each other since we heard this news, and we are in no doubt that we need to help support our partner’s work once he is able to visit the island.
On top of this disaster, we received news that because of migrant workers returning to their villages from towns and cities, Rupamari is now seeing its first cases of Covid-19. Please remember this fragile community in your prayers.
In the meantime, please may we, once again, ask you to consider whether you are able to help support financially towards these needs https://www.visionforasia.org/about-us/make-a-donation/.
We are so grateful to those who have already offered support both in prayer and through generous donations. Thank you so much!
Every Blessing and Thanks for your faithful prayers,
Marilyn, Sue, Mary and Nicky