They went to the areas worst-hit by the devastating floods, rescued thousands from the swirling waters, delivered relief materials and came back, carrying with them the gratitude of the people and commendations of the Kerala government. The 245-member team from the Odisha Fire Service was rushed to Kerala on the directions of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and deployed in Alappuzha, Kottayam, Chengannur and other places. It took along boats and advanced disaster-response equipment and put them to effective use. The team has been hailed for its deft rescue and relief operations in helping the beleaguered southern state. Its services have once again demonstrated Odisha’s skills in disaster management.
In less than two decades since the catastrophic super cyclone of 1999 that claimed more than 10,000 lives and virtually uprooted most of its coastal areas, Odisha is now a global model in disaster preparedness and management. Adopting a ‘Zero Casualty’ and a policy of fast reconstruction and rehabilitation, the state has been able to develop resilience with continuous focus on infrastructure, manpower, alertness and community involvement. If we look at disaster management during another severe cyclone Phailin in 2013—when the state undertook its biggest ever evacuation of more than a million people and minimised the casualties to a score—as well as cyclone Hudhud in 2014 and recurrent annual floods, the Odisha
model has been tried, tested and proven effective year after year.
Earlier this year, a Union Home Ministry panel had suggested that states follow the Odisha model to reduce risk of damage from disasters and enhance management. The state government has also been forthcoming in sharing its expertise with others. The Kerala floods have underpinned the necessity to act fast to tackle nature’s wrath that is increasingly becoming more ferocious and unpredictable. Odisha is ready to help.