How Bangladesh handled Cyclone Sitrang

Weather forecasts and timely evacuation of people and cattle have lowered losses

More than 18 deaths have been reported from different parts of Bangladesh since Monday night as the powerful Cyclone Sitrang completed its landfall and weakened to a tropical depression over Bangladesh early Tuesday.

Officials working closely to tackle the adverse impacts of the cyclone said that having taken up all necessary preparations, like appropriate weather forecasting and timely evacuation of people and domestic animals of the coastal regions, minimized the damages. 

The Prime Minister's Office, the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, and other units of the government, such as the Armed Forces, Coast Guard, police, local administration, elected representatives, ruling party workers and general people worked in a coordinated manner from Monday morning to monitor and save the livelihoods from this strong cyclone.

Due to the cyclone, rain and thundershowers swept over the other parts of the country, including the capital Dhaka, causing waterlogging, traffic congestion, and falling of trees since Tuesday morning due to the effects of Cyclone Strang.

Damages and compensations

At a press conference on Tuesday, State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Md Enamur Rahman said the Sitrang did not turn into a severe cyclone and crossed the coastal area very quickly.

Stating that the cyclone has swept over Bhola, Noakhali and Chittagong, the state minister said that 10,000 houses and crops of 6,000 hectares of 419 unions had been damaged. Another 1,000 fish enclosures were destroyed.

Dhaka Tribune

Responding to a question, he said that the government will give corrugated steel sheets to repair the damaged house, and the affected fisherman will get interest-free loans.

The state minister gave information about nine deaths based on primary information from different parts of the country.

He said that Tk25,000 would be given to the deceased families as compensation. Two families of Gopalganj have already received the assistance.

He said corrugated steel sheets and cash would be given from today for repairing the damaged houses.

Enamur added it would take 15 days to know about the actual extent of the damages.

Around 1 million people took shelter in 6,925 shelters during the cyclone. They all left the shelters after the storm passed. Due to the cyclone, flooding has occurred in some places, but now it is normal, he said.

Electricity connections will be okay

Cyclone Sitrang started crossing the coast near Bhola on Monday evening with heavy rains and tidal waves. At that time, gusts caused trees to fall and many districts in the south were left without power.

State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid said in an emergency press conference at the Secretariat on Tuesday afternoon that around 2,000 electric poles of various distribution companies were damaged by the storm.

“We have about 4.80 crore subscribers. Now about 8 million are without power. In some areas, power poles were uprooted and fallen trees damaged the lines. Problems were witnessed in many places, so the power supply was completely shut down to avoid any unwanted situation,” he said.

Focus Bangla

Nasrul said that transmission and distribution lines were affected, adding: “It will be possible to provide electricity to about 70% of subscribers by Tuesday evening and 100% by tomorrow noon.”

Residents of those areas are suffering due to a long time of no electricity. Emergency services, including hospital services, are being disrupted. Mobile phone and internet communication were also cut off.

Fire Service officials said that in the 24 hours till 8am on Tuesday, they received information about 287 trees falling on different roads across the country.

Of those, 56 trees were uprooted on different roads in Dhaka division. In three cases, trees fell on houses. 

Measures taken before cyclone

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina personally monitored developments centring Cyclone Sitrang around the clock and instructed government officials to take steps to minimize the loss of lives and properties.

Sheikh Hasina, also the Awami League president, gave necessary instructions to the central unit leaders regarding this matter.

“Prime minister was communicating with the local leaders, including MPs and other public representatives, of her party to get the information quickly and gave necessary directives,” one of her personal aides told Dhaka Tribune on Tuesday.

A monitoring cell, PM's Disaster Management Coordination and Relief Monitoring Cell, had opened at the PMO that worked for 24 hours a day as per the instruction of the premier.

Focus Bangla

According to PMO data, 2,19,690 people took shelter in 7,490 cyclone shelters and 112 Mujib Killa of 60 upazilas of 19 districts.

A total of Tk95,00,000 in cash, 475 tons of rice and 19,000 dry food packets were distributed among them immediately.

In addition, 45,000 domestic cattle took shelter in the above-mentioned places amid the cyclone.

Bangladesh Inland Waterway Transport Authority suspended all passenger and cargo vessels and the ferry terminals on Monday before the cyclone, and reopened on Tuesday morning.

Three airports, including two international and one domestic, were closed due to the heavy rainfall on Monday. Flight operations resumed on Tuesday.

Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) deployed around 1,200 volunteers in the coastal areas to protect the people from the cyclone.

The Navy, and the Coast Guard have worked restlessly in the coastal areas to bring people to the nearby cyclone shelters and the Air Force helicopter on Tuesday monitored the affected areas by two helicopters.

400,000 people were safe in Ashrayan's houses

Nearly 400,000 people of 19 coastal districts did not leave their houses for the nearby cyclone centre this time, as they were protected in their own places, which they got as a gift from the Prime Minister's initiative Ashrayan-2 project.

According to the latest information from the PMO, some 219,690 people and 45,442 cattle were protected in Ashrayan's house amid the cyclone.