The Category 5 cyclone – the strongest category there is – will hit the eastern states of Odisha and Andrha Pradesh today at approximately 7 PM local time. Disaster monitoring sites and media reports describe the cyclone as comparable in size to Hurricane Katrina that devastated America's southeastern coast in 2005 but with significantly higher winds, increasing the likelihood of a devastating impact. We expect major damage to buildings, like homes and veterinary clinics, trees, crops, farmlands and local infrastructure. Local flights are cancelled and trains are being diverted as a mass evacuation occurs across the region.
Low lying coastal areas are particularly vulnerable and we know from our past responses to disasters in the area, that these largely farm-based communities are very vulnerable.
A farmer in Odisha feeds his cattle. They were among the many people and animals WSPA helped in 2011-12.
We expect cattle, buffalo, goats and companion or pet animals in the tens of thousands to be impacted by the cyclone. We are concerned evacuation of human populations may not include animals who will be left behind without adequate resources and support. We’ve launched a series of public service announcements through our partners on the ground to try to give the people and animals a fighting chance while they wait for outside help to arrive.
In particular the team are concerned about veterinary access and infrastructure, the destruction of crops, animal feed spoilage, access to clean water and much needed shelter. This will be the team's immediate focus in working towards supporting these at-risk animals and their communities.
Animal welfare is high on the Government of India’s agenda and our inspiring partnership with the Government of India's National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) recently helped to achieve another key milestone for animals and people caught in disasters in India. Just last month, the NDMA issued an official directive to all State Governments / State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs) to integrate animals in their existing/upcoming disaster management plans.
We cannot yet know the actual impact Phailin will have, but we know it will put all of us dedicated to ensuring animal and people communities’ survival and well-being to the test. As always we will work tirelessly to help the animals and people who depend on them when they need it the most.
Check back for regular updates as we move forward to help.