All of India rather the whole world came to know about the Cyclone HUDHUD that devastated Visakhapatnam, the city of Destiny also known as the green city at the east coast of India on the 12 th Oct, Sunday 2014. The Cyclonic storms crossed Tamil Nadu, Odisha and A P coast many times during the past, but none had hit Vizag city directly. This maybe the first time such a cyclone in massive proportion has struck the city. The once vibrant city of Visakhapatnam, ravaged by the unprecedented fury of Cyclone Hudhud has been reduced to debris.
The city presently has a population of around 2.5 Million. We are a little over 100 families of Orthodox Syrian Christians from Kerala native who are settled here of which a few are staying here for more than 60 years and all are the members of St. Stephens Orthodox Church, Visakhapatnam. By the blessing of God almighty our Church building and all the members are safe. The Keralites population at Vizag is around 30000. Our sister Church members of Marthoma Syrian church are also safe and sound. Kerala Kala Samithi, the Malayalee Association building and its auditorium has been destroyed. The international Airport building is smashed. This is an industrial cum tourist town and the Major Industries at Vizag such as the Hindustan Shipyard, Vizag steel plant, HPCL Refinery, NTPC power plant and all other establishment like Indian Navy, Port Trust, I T Sector, Tourist spots, film studios, fishing sector and many other manufacturing industries were shattered and operations were stopped at these industries for more than a week due to this obliteration.
Visakhapatnam was a fast growing city which at present is completely damaged with almost all the trees being uprooted and in a way the total green cover becoming almost invisible with the wind speeds of more than 200 Km/ hour speed. The suffering by one and all in the city is beyond anybody’s imagination and the poor bear the brunt. There were more than 50000 electrical poles which had collapsed and the city is filled with debris being cleared now area wise. It was a miracle that the Human life loss was limited to around 40 and thanks to the advanced weather technology observatory which forecasted the wind speed and timely intervention of Government authorities to rehabilitate the people to safer places from sea front. The rural area of neighboring 3 districts of Andhra Pradesh was also extremely devastated especially thousands of hectares of crops and horticulture plantations. It is touching to see the woes the lifestyle has taken in the urban and rural areas which have suffered especially without essentials like proper food, electricity, water, transportation and so on for more than a week. The Railway and Air traffic service have now restored in limited operations. The estimated loss in Vizag city alone immediately known is more than Rs. 70,000/- Crores.
We the Vizag citizens faced the tragedy with courage. The destruction of the property has not deterred their spirit and all show firm resolve to bounce back. The State Government is doing their best to reach all with a helping hand. I personally appreciate the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Mr. N. Chandra Babu Naidu, for his determination and confidence level adding the support from Prime Minister of India and Opposition leaders and other philanthropists worldwide, who were present in the city from Monday and supervised the relief operation. With the help of many somehow the life is limping back to normalcy. The total restoration will take many more months and years.
In this tragic calamity I would mention with regret that the Orthodox Church hierarchy has never expressed empathy to the sufferers of Hudhud at Visakhapatnam or deputed anyone from the Church to convey their sympathy. I suppose the Orthodox Church is not bothered about such a level of National disaster. Our H.H. Catholica Bava Thirumeni and Other Metropolitans of Orthodox Holy Synod or any senior lay leaders of the Church Managing Committee did not offer any assistance to the victims. In my understanding there is not even a Bull (Kalpana) released by the Church hierarchy for peace, solace and to uphold the sufferers of disaster in their daily prayers. The Church did not extend any relief support or consideration to the victims, other than Mar Seraphim and Mar Chrysostemos who called the Visakhapatnam Orthodox Church Vicar Rev. Fr. Jacob Thomas.
I am not overstepping with comments on Malankara Orthodox Church Hierarchy but request that our Church should come out to help and pray for the victims of National and International tragedies in future. I am happy to note that various Government departments, Industrialists and many NGO’s are extending free service to Vizagites to get back to the normal life. At this point it is worth revealing that Rev. Fr. K.I. Varghese, Vicar of Orthodox Church Jagadhalpur, Odisha of nearest Orthodox Church to Vizag visited one of the rehabilitation camps on October 16, 2014 and distributed 300 food packets and Thanks to Fr. K.I.Varghese and all his parish members.
The writer Mr. Sam Cherian Karuvely is a Former Sabha Managing Committee Member of Malankara Orthodox Church
Courtsey Photo: The Hindu –Hoardings collapse due to high wind speed at Siripuram Junction as the very severe cyclonic storm Hudhud passes over Visakhapatnam on Sunday. Photo: K.R. Deepak