KENDRAPARA: Each time the sky turns overcast, Pravati Maity turns distraught with memories of 1999 killer cyclone trailing back to haunt her.
However, the 55-year-old widow from Ambiki village under Erasama block of Odisha's Jagatsinghpur district is prepared to face nature’s fury in future. Maity says she lost her husband and 10-year-old son. Nature left her all alone.
Devastation of the cataclysmic super cyclone that impounded the state 16 years back is still fresh in survivors’ memories and it continues to haunt them.
People in these parts which had withstood maximum brunt of October 29-30, 1999 cyclone are no more taking chances when cyclone or tsunami warning is sounded.
Preparedness has gripped the seaside villages.
Over 15,000 people had perished as 20-foot-tall tidal waves had unleashed trails of devastation in seaside humansettlements in Paradip, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara areas in 1999.
The administration then was found wanting to counter the situation. People had also taken the cyclone warning in lighter vein and had to pay a heavy price, officials said.
The mindset of natives in seaside villages has undergone a change since the last cyclone days. The people in past used to take the periodic strike of cyclone in their stride that nature had taught them how to counter the threat, said Kendrapara Collector, Debraj Senapati.
It’s a positive sign that each time, the coastal areas come under depression weather there are frantic queries from the residents from far-off coastal hamlets. The Emergency section of the district administration is flooded with confirmatory replies so as to whether there be likelihood of cyclone striking again, he said.
In vulnerable spots like Satabhaya and Batighar in Kendrapara district, villagers often voluntarily move to the safety of multi-purpose cyclone shelters and panchayat office buildings, said the Collector.
"We know the ferocity of sea and storm better than the people in other parts. As sea strides towards our village at least once in every month, we are accustomed to the practice of shifting to safety. Before the government agencies ask us, we shift to shelter buildings", said Narottam Sahani, a settler of Satabhaya village in vulnerable sea-erosion-hit Satabhaya village.