Cyclone Yaas: Authorities to accommodate people affected by high tides in govt offices
The devastation caused by high tides in the rivers of North 24-Parganas and South 24-Parganas districts was beyond estimates, prompting authorities to open state government offices to accommodate people who managed to escape the inundation across swathes.
Witnessing the unexpected inundation, which preliminarily appears more than what had been caused by Cyclone Amphan, the two district administrations began on a war-footing acquisition of new shelters, launching yet another evacuation drive apprehending more devastation because of the late evening high tide.
Normal height of tides is two-three feet and the authorities had expected that it would reach four feet during the cyclone. But tides went up as high as five fee at many places on Wednesday.
Both the districts administrations, on the basis of past experiences, had evacuated people from vulnerable locations and kept them at school buildings, doubling as cyclone shelters, complying with the Covid-19 safety protocols.
But large-scale unexpected inundation at some locations prompted further evacuation, which overcrowded the cyclone shelters. The administration, therefore, opened the government offices as shelters.
Officials said a large number of schools were taken up to accommodate evacuees, but the unforeseen overcrowding caused Covid-19 fears.
Several areas in the Basirhat subdivision close to the Sundarbans were submerged. The worst-hit areas are Sandeshkhali blocks 1 and 2, Hingalganj, Hansnabad and Minakhan, where high tidal waves from several rivers such as the Roymangal, Vidyadhari, Goureshwar, Dasa and the Ichhamati overflowed the earthen embankments.
An official of North 24-Parganas administration said: “The devastation was beyond our estimates.”
“Based on the weather alerts and our experiences, we identified the vulnerable spots and shifted people to nearby school buildings. This time, we acquired more schools to avoid crowding as a Covid-19 safety measure. But as the day advanced, reports of inundation caused by breaches in embankments began pouring in. Many people are seeking shelters now,” he added.
He said there were other schools that could have been acquired, but those were not deemed ready for the situation.
“We opened the Sandeshkhali 1 block development office, the food and supply office, and the relief department office to accommodate people. We also arranged for food for them,” said another North 24-Parganas official.
“Our foremost priority is to save lives. So, we had to make immediate arrangements, considering the approaching night. We have enough food and other essential needs. We will arrange for other centres tomorrow as well,” said North 24-Parganas district magistrate Sumit Gupta.
In South 24-Parganas, residents of Kakdwip, Sagar, Mousuni, Namkhana, Narayanpur, Ghoramara, Jharkhali and Fraserganj suffered the most.
At Namkhana, Kakdwip, Raidighi, Mandirbazar, Patharpratima, Sagar and Bakkhali, the administration converted offices of gram panchayats, block development offices and anganwadis into shelters.