Relief for Flood Victims in Orissa, India

16/09/2011 - Flooding in the Indian state of Orissa has affected about 2.1 million people, including orphans and elderly persons stranded in one hard-to-reach village. On the ground relief has begun as roads become more accessible.

According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), 2.5 million children have been affected by the rains in Pakistan. Intense flooding has also affected millions of people in India. In the Indian state of Orissa, at least 26 people have died and 12 people remain missing. Entire villages have been submerged and about 193,000 men, women and children have been evacuated from their homes.

A total of 2.1 million people (about 5 per cent of Orissa's population) have been affected in one way or another, most of them sustaining damage to their homes or crops in the flood. Since June, 788 people have died in flooding across India.

Helicopters provided emergency relief for the past five days, but were called off once roads became accessible. A reported 12 people, including an eleven-year-old girl, were injured by relief bags dropped by the helicopters over a three-day period, noted District Collector Pradipta Kishore Mohanty. The injuries, however, have been minor.

Air dropping of relief supplies was suspended today as flood water receded in the Mahanadi delta (in Orissa). Roads have been repaired in Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Cuttack, Jajpur, Puri, Nayagarh and Boudh, allowing relief teams to access flood victims via roads. There is, however, a fresh flood threat in three Baitarani districts.

Humanitarian teams are now working to provide displaced people with shelter, kitchen implements and medicines. Some people have begun to return to their homes, though 368 relief centres and kitchens have been set up to help those who cannot. Electrocution, snake bites and exposure to sewage or otherwise contaminated water are among the key risks. Yesterday, it was reported that the India Air Force began relief efforts in part of the state.

Intense flooding had marooned 80 people, including orphans and elderly persons, in the Kendrapara district for two days. As many as 52 villages were marooned in Kendrapara. The residents of the orphanage in the village of Patalipanka were stranded by flood waters overflowing from a tributary of the Mahanadi River. The shelter is home to 160 people, including infant children. Ten-foot flood waters surrounded the shelter. As of the last reports earlier in the week, despite the shortage of food and water supplies they faced, all stranded inmates were healthy and safe.