At 10 pm Saturday, when Cyclone Phailin was pounding Chhatrapur with wind speed of 250 kmph after making landfall in Gopalpur, fisheries department driver Sarat Kumar Nayak had just finished his dinner. As the winds battered his quarters in Chhatrapur, Nayak thought of the 1999 supercyclone, when he was posted in Paradip.
“Within no time, my room was in ankle-deep water, as rain poured through the skylight. The winds almost blew my roof away. I could feel this was bigger than 1999,” recalled Nayak. He quickly ran to the two-storey office building near his residence, where he spent a sleepless night.
In a cyclone shelter in Chhatrapur, women started crying when rainwater gushed into the room through the skylight which was broken by the force of the winds. “I was thinking about what the cyclone would have done to my house,” said Laxmi Behera, a resident of Haripur village, less than a kilometre from the coast. In the morning, she found that her house had been destroyed.
Buddhadev Behera, a fisherman of the same village, said all he heard was a hissing sound. “I experienced its force, as I pressed myself against the door of my house to stop it from blowing away. It was massive,” he said.
Not very far from Haripur, Surendra Nath Sahu, an official at the Chhatrapur sub-jail, was planning to go home when the cyclone struck. For the next few hours, he could not leave the jail premises, as the high speed winds and heavy rainfall battered the walls. First, the 18-feet boundary wall collapsed. “Soon after, one of the walls of Ward No 3, housing some convicts and undertrial prisioners, also collapsed,” he recalled.
“The wall around the main gate also developed cracks,” said jail superintendent Arun Rath. The jail staff put their weight against the door, as they tried to prevent it from collapsing.
“I thought that nothing would happen to my two-storey house. But my house shook like a matchbox,” said retired constable Tarini Nayak in Takira Berhampur village. Nayak’s fears rose as the winds blew away the tin roof of his cowshed, and the three cows