November 16, 2007

The demon that was in the cyclone Sidr

Photo: Dhaka in the dark Friday evening (the day after) - courtesy The Daily Star

The descriptions of the destructions that cyclone Sidr brought to Bangladesh are coming to appear. Sidr was one of the 10 fiercest cyclones that had hit the region of Bangladesh in the 131 years between 1876 and 2007.

Bangladesh suffered a total disruption of power and can you imagine the national grid broke down because of low usage. Because of disruptions in the cyclone many electricity networks were shut down in the coastal areas and elsewhere in the country to minimize short circuits etc. The underutilized power has prompted an overload in the total network which shut down all power stations one by one. They are coming back online but the authorities say maybe it will take 1 or two days more to become normal. Meanwhile in Bangladesh Telecommunications were dead in most parts because of no power. The city life has been disrupted. The latest from the news sources:

- Unofficial death count crosses 1100. (AP)

- The Bagerhat district administration said violent winds ravaged 1,62,000 houses. At least 51,000 houses were partly damaged.

- A huge number of trees uprooted by cyclone Sidr blocked the Dhaka–Barisal Highway and several other tertiary roads in the country’s south.

- As many as 20,000 thatched houses were damaged by the storm and 5,000 houses were partly damaged in Pirojpur.

- The World Food Programme is sending emergency food rations for 400,000 people. The government, the Red Crescent and other NGOs are also sending teams.

- More than 40,000 policemen, soldiers, coastguards and health workers have been deployed. (BBC)

- Members of Bangladesh Navy have been engaged in disaster management and rehabilitation activities in the cyclone-hit country's south-western region.

- Zia International Airport in Capital Dhaka reopened after 20 hours of closure

- Operations at main Chittagong port also resumed after a suspension lasting nearly 48 hours.

- Due to lack of power supply, Internet connections were also disrupted even for those who were running their computers using generators. This has happened because the Internet service providers had ran out of their backup power systems.

- The cellphone services were disrupted as phone network base stations, most of which are equipped with backup batteries and some with generators, ran out of power. As a result, cellphone service in many areas was unavailable.

- The state-run Bangladesh Television (BTV) in the country's 36 years of history had to suspend its transmission for the first time for nearly three hours yesterday due to power outage.

- Ecological disaster in Sundarbans feared.

Photo: Courtesy The Daily Star

- Cyclone ravaged 95 percent crops in 11 coastal districts. Farmers were currently trying to recover their losses caused by two recent floods.

- Many of the Shrimp hatcheries in Satkhira, Khulna and Cox's Bazar were washed away by the hurricane.

From the Blogs:

Image credit: CIESEN, Columbia University

-Dr. Jeff Masters of Wunderblog analyzes:
population density map of Bangladesh for regions less than 10 meters in elevation (red areas) and higher than 10 meters (green areas). The path of Tropical Cyclone Sidr took it inland over the Sundarbans Forest, the least populated region of the coast. However, the more heavily populated provinces just to the right of the Forest, Barguna and Patuakhali, likely received a storm surge of 10-20 feet. Sidr passed near the city of Barisal, where sustained winds of 92 mph were measured at midnight local time. The deadliest cyclones for Bangladesh have always taken a more easterly track, near the city of Chittagong.

The maximum storm surge from Sidr was probably 20-25 feet, and affected the regions near and to the right of where the eye made landfall. The eye fortunately came ashore in the Sundarbans Forest, the world's largest forest of mangrove trees. This region is the least populated coastal area in the country (Figure 1). Storm surge levels of 10-20 feet probably affected the provinces of Barguna and Paruakhali, which are more heavily populated. Undoubtedly, the storm surge killed many more people in these provinces, and Sidr's death toll will go much higher. However, Bangladesh has done a much better job providing shelters and evacuating people during cyclones since the 1991 storm.
- Tropical Weather Expert Dr. Steve Lyons analyze in the weather channel blog why there was huge surge in Bangladesh.

- BBC is particularly keen to follow up a story that has appeared in the Bengali press. It says that royal Bengal tigers took refuge from the storm in one village deep in the Sunderbans mangrove forest alongside local people.

- Oxfam fears huge humanitarian impact.

- Rumi of In the middle of Nowhere lists more updates of the day after:
Unprecedented damage to property and cattlehead are being reported from Bhola ( eye of 1970 Bhola Cyclone) and other southern districts in Bangladesh. Aerial footages show that miles after miles, villages after villages have been turned into a total rubble. It feels like 10,000 tornados simultaneously ravaged a 200 mile radius area.

As the category 4 cyclone had its landfall near Sundarban, irreparable damage have been done to the flora and fauna in the Sundarbans. It will take many years to know how mnay of several hundred Bengal tigers survived the 20 feet tidal waves.
- Ajaira Pechal posts links of aid organizations who are accepting donations for the victims.

- See picture of a new born boy who was born during the wrath of Sidr and was aptly named Cyclone, thats a unlucky name.

- Kathy comments in Nari Jibon's Bangladesh from our view:
Dhaka experienced a Category 3 hurricane; friends reached via mobiles (cell phones) report that residents have had little or no power or water since the storm. Signs of Bangladeshi resilience are everywhere.
Finally good news from Shawn at The Uncultured Project that lives are slowly returning to normal in Dhaka City:
I kid you not - people are cheering on the streets and in their homes nearby. The reason? The electricity has come back to my little part of Dhaka City. What surprises me is the determined nature for Bangladeshis - at least those in Dhaka City - for things to go back to normal. If this had happened in America - this would be declared a national emergency. TV shows would be pre-empted and this would be covered 24/7. But, for the brief hour I had electricity today, it seems that even local TV stations didn’t bother to pre-empt their programming to cover the damage from the storms.
yeah talking about Bangladeshi resilience.


The aftermath of Hurricane Sidr: signs of progress?

Sidr strikes Bangladesh

Cyclone Sidr: Blogger experiences and reactions


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