Maharashtra, the worst-hit state of India with COVID-19 cases, is facing yet another calamity before it gets a chance to stabilize itself from the blow of the pandemic. Cyclone Nisarga, a tropical storm in the Arabian Sea is rapidly approaching towards Maharashtra and South Gujarat.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) as issued a warning that the tropical storm is likely to intensify into a severe cyclonic storm in the next 24 hours, and is expected to reach close to Mumbai by June 3. IMD has also asserted that the entire west coast of Maharashtra including Mumbai will be on red alert once the depression intensifies into a cyclone.
Facing a Cyclone
Cyclones are an inevitable natural hazard that every region with a coastline has to suffer. However, preventing it from being a disaster is up to us. In this context, let us look at some guidelines to ensure safety and prevent damage during the cyclone.
Before the cyclone hits
1. Check for any loose glass or broken windows or doors and get it fixed immediately.
2. Ensure the availability of sufficient food supplies and drinking water in the house
3. Identify the strongest part of the house and make sure all the family members are aware of it.
4. Make sure that the neighbours are aware of these guidelines and are taking necessary steps to prepare themselves for the upcoming cyclone.
5. Tune in to the news to keep track of the updates regarding the cyclone
After the cyclone hits
1. Disconnect all the electronic appliances as soon as the cyclone hits to avoid cases of short circuit.
2. Remove all the hanging materials from the balconies or windows such as flower pots, hanging pots, cardboard boxes and so on.
3. Park the two-wheelers on the main stand to prevent them from falling over other vehicles.
4. Keep the first aid kits handy in case of small cuts and bruises. Keep old towels and thick rugs handy to soak the water if it happens to seep in from gaps.
5. Stay in the strongest part of the house.
6. Wear strong shoes, lock the doors and store important documents in a plastic cover.
7. If the building starts to break, instead of running out, protect yourself with thick rugs and mattresses.
8. Make sure that the outer units of split ACs, as well as the satellite dish, are firmly screwed in place.
9. If the wind stops, do not step out. Because it may start again in a different direction. Wait for official ‘all clear’ from the authorities.
After the cyclone is gone
1. Beware of damaged power-lines, bridges, trees, and floodwaters before stepping outside.
2. Check the damage in the house before turning on appliances. Do not use the appliances if wet.
Preparedness for future in Cyclone Prone Areas
Construction of Cyclone Engineered Structures
Community buildings made of concrete and steel should be erected in every cyclone-prone area, that can be used a shelter during cyclones. These buildings should be able to house a large number of people for several days.
Building Green Belts
Coastal areas prone to tropical cyclone should be strictly marked as ‘no-go zones’ for economic development activities. These areas should be converted into green belts that can provide a riparian buffer for the cyclones and prevent them from damaging the area beyond the green zone. Mangrove forests reduce the velocity of water which in turn also reduces the damage. Therefore efforts should be made to conserve mangrove forests and extend them further in the coastal zones.