After making landfall in the eastern state of Odisha, India, Cyclone Fani (pronounced “foe-nee”) continued its path northeast into Bangladesh on Saturday, May 4, 2019, destroying thousands of homes and leaving towns submerged in floodwaters in these two South Asian countries.
Cyclone Fani is said to be the strongest typhoon to hit the two countries in the past five years. After hitting land on Friday, India’s Meteorological Department said Fani lost strength and was downgraded to a depression.
However, residents in Bangladesh are still being advised to take extra caution as storm surges are still a problem in low-lying areas of the country. The storm has submerged villages and towns in the northeast, particularly in the Noakhali and Bhola districts, where many were reportedly injured.
Local reports in Bangladesh said more than a dozen people died and 63 people were injured, with more than a million people evacuated to safety. Local government authorities in Bangladesh emphasized an estimated 1.2 million people were moved to evacuation sites to avoid casualties.
Seventh-day Adventists in Bangladesh are working to provide relief through the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA). Days before the cyclone’s landfall, ADRA workers began monitoring the situation. Preparation for a rapid intervention was intensified in order to respond immediately to Fani’s destruction.
According to the National Disaster Response Coordination Center (NDRCC) of the Disaster Management and Relief Ministry of Bangladesh, Fani devastated crops on 1,830 acres (336 hectares) of land and partially damaged crops on 119,832 acres (about 48,500 hectares) of land in 26 districts. An estimated 13,000 houses were fully or partially damaged due to Fani’s cyclonic storm, particularly in coastal districts of Bhola, Chandpur, Bagerhat, Khulna, Satkhira, Patuakhali, and Barguna, according to NDRCC.
Additional reports said that 36 villages in Patuakhali, Bagerhat, Bhola, and Satkhira were flooded as storm surges continued to rise and overflowed houses. More than 20 miles (32 kilometers) of earthen dams were damaged.
ADRA Bangladesh volunteers stepped into the situation on Sunday to assess the situation and see the urgent needs of families affected by the storms. ADRA plans to start distribution of emergency supplies in the districts of Bhola and Patuakhali.
The development and relief organization is working closely with local government authorities, non-profit organizations, food security clusters, shelter clusters, and churches to identify the immediate and most significant needs of those impacted. Basic needs such as ready-to-eat food, makeshift shelters, bedding, water, medicine, and clothes are greatly needed for distribution, according to ADRA Bangladesh communications and public relations director Syed Abu Saleh.