BHUBANESWAR: An inspector in Kendrapara, who had witnessed the extensive damage caused in the district due to Fani and Amphan, chose to return to duty on the same day he performed his 85-year-old mother's last rites to shift the people from the low-lying areas to safety.
Marshaghai inspector-in-charge Kalandi Behera was posted in the same police station when the two tropical storms struck Odisha in 2019 and 2020 and he was well aware that hundreds of people will have to be shifted to shelter homes for very severe cyclonic storm 'Yaas'.
"There was an anticipation that cyclone Yaas could trigger floods in low-lying villages of five panchayats - Teragaon, Gadaramita, Patalipanka, Ameipal and Tikhiri under Marshaghai police limits for which the people needed to be shifted to the shelter homes," said Behera.
Behera's mother was staying with him in Marshaghai, she possibly suffered a heart attack on May 21 and succumbed. The officer performed his mother's last rites at their native village in Jajpur's Binjharpur and returned to Marshaghai in the same evening to resume his duties.
Behera, other policemen, and various government agencies shifted at least 2,100 people from low-lying areas to safety. "Trees were uprooted and electricity poles sustained damages due to Yaas. I assisted in the restoration work and left for my village on Thursday to perform the remaining funeral customs of my mother," said Behera.
"Marshaghai IIC Kalandi Behera performed his duty and evacuation and relief work despite the sad demise of his mother a few days back. Salute to his commitment and sacrifice," said Kendrapara SP Madkar Sandeep sampad.
In another incident, a 105-year-old woman, Lakshmi Mallick, suffering from paralysis was stuck in Magarkanda village in Kendrapara district which is surrounded by river Baunsagada and by the sea on the other side.
Rajnagar police led by IIC Tapan Kumar Nayak received information on Tuesday about the stranded woman and her son. Nayak and his staff had to walk for about 3 kms, travel on a boat to cross the river inhabited by crocodiles, and reach the village.
"The elderly woman was weeping when we reached near their thatched house. We carried the woman and guided her son to safety a day ahead of cyclone Yaas made landfall," said Nayak.
Similarly, Talachuan Marine police station IIC SK Barik and other personnel evacuated a 91-year-old woman and her family members from their house in Baghamari panchayat on Tuesday as the rains had left the area inundated.
At least 52 teams of the National Disaster Response Forces, 60 of Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF), 177 of Odisha Fire Service, and others were deployed to carry out rescue and relief operations for Cyclone Yaas.
The teams launched rescue and restoration operations on a war footing after the very severe cyclonic storm hit the coast near 20 km south of Balasore at 9 am on Wednesday.
These agencies have not only rescued the locals but have also helped the animals who bore the brunt of the nature's fury.
An ODRAF team rescued a cow from a waterlogged area in Balasore's Soro.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday appreciated NDRF, ODRAF and Odisha Police for carrying out rescue and relief operations swiftly in the affected districts of the State.
"Appreciate Odisha Police for its relentless efforts in shifting people to safety ahead of cyclone Yaas, rescuing vulnerable people and working ceaselessly to restore normalcy at the earliest. The commitment to serve during such challenging times is praiseworthy," said Naveen.
The Chief Minister praised ODRAF and NDRF for relentlessly working to rescue people from unsafe places and removing uprooted trees to restore road communication at the earliest.