During the night of Thursday the 15th November 2018, the state of Tamil Nadu in India, was affected by the Gaja Cyclone. Severe cyclonic storm “Gaja” crossed between Pondicherry and Nagapattinam with wind gusts up to 120 kilometres speed per hour. Nagapattinam, Cuddalore, Tiruvarur, Tanjavur, Pudukottai and Karaikal Districts are the most affected by this cyclone. As of 19th November 2018, at least 45 people are feared dead and many people have also incurred injuries. Many trees have been uprooted. Significant number of Coconut and Banana Plantations have been destroyed. Thatched houses and tied houses have been damaged. Furthermore, as some of the affected areas are still not accessible, the clear number of houses damaged is yet to come. Many boats have been damaged in the coastal area of Vedaranyam of Nagapattinam Taluk. Around 80,000 families have been evacuated and are staying in 351 camps. In most of the places, they are still in the shelter. Moreover, around 20,000 electric poles have been damaged and this has caused electricity failure in many districts and fallen trees have blocked the roads, affecting the daily life of people in the area. Also, the essential services are affected due of the electricity cut and the poor road accessibility. It is also reported that some of the essential needs are not available in Temporary Shelters. The ACT India Forum members namely Church’s Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA), United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India (UELCI), and United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India LWSIT) are closely assessing the situation. Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Arcot Lutheran Church members of UELCI areas are spread across the affected areas and are involved in helping the government with evacuation work; around 3,000 families are accommodated in their churches and food has been provided. In some of the affected areas where CASA’s projects are operational, the forum is actively taking part in the supporting the government in evacuation and assessment. LWSIT is assessing the situation
The ACT India forum is planning on submitting Rapid Response Funding (RRF) proposal to provide lifesaving packages and humanitarian assistance to ensure that the cyclone affected persons’ basic needs are met with regards to clothing, non-cooked food items and temporary shelter materials. ACT Alliance is ready to respond, providing clothing and non-cooked food items in the coming days. Furthermore, ACT Alliance will engage in advocacy on the national and international level to ensure that the voices of those affected by the cyclone are amplified.