Cyclone Slams India, Bangladesh, Leaving 84 Dead and Millions Displaced During Pandemic
At least 84 people were killed when Cyclone Amphan walloped India and Bangladesh Wednesday, bringing "war-like" destruction to the city of Kolkata in the Indian state of West Bengal, The Guardian reported.
The response to the storm, which made landfall as the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane, was complicated by the spread of the new coronavirus. While around three million people in India and Bangladesh evacuated to safety ahead of the storm, some villagers remained in place out of fear of contracting the virus in a crowded shelter, The New York Times reported.
"At one end there is this small Covid virus that is terrifying people," West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said in a video conference reported by The New York Times. "This was another virus from the sky."
This is from my terrace this morning. Trees on both sides of the road all over. People now taking photos in horror.… https://t.co/GiusoiNvLJ— Boria Majumdar (@Boria Majumdar)1590022072.0
Causes of death included felled trees, downed electrical wires and collapsed buildings. In Bangladesh, Khanat Begum and her 13-year-old daughter were killed when a gust of wind uprooted their neighbor's tree and dropped it on top of their house.
For the survivors, the storm also brought devastation. Hundreds of thousands of people saw their homes destroyed, according to The Guardian. This could enable the spread of the new coronavirus as people are forced to remain in shelters.
"We have to rebuild those districts from scratch," she said, as The Guardian reported: "Area after area has been ruined. I have experienced a war-like situation today."
Staircase outside my flat now known as Kolkata Waterfall #CycloneAmphanUpdate https://t.co/iy53rTjbKg— Anushree Hamirwasia (@Anushree Hamirwasia)1589990442.0
At least 15 people in the city were killed, The New York Times reported. All told, at least 72 people died in West Bengal and 12 in Bangladesh, according to BBC News.
Bangladesh evacuated more people ahead of the storm than India, at 2.4 million compared with around 660,000, The New York Times reported. But the country was still hit hard.
"Even by Bangladeshi standards, this was a powerful storm," Save the Children in Bangladesh Humanitarian Director Mostak Hussain said in a statement. "We've received reports that more than 5 million people were disconnected from the electricity grid for their own safety as winds of 150kph smashed into power lines, destroying homes and uprooting trees. In some of the worst-affected areas there was a tidal surge of nearly three metres, causing dams to overflow and submerging low-lying villages and crops."
UPDATE: Our teams are assessing the damage in #India & #Bangladesh in the wake of #CycloneAmphan - the most powerfu… https://t.co/5W9QHt05eJ— sciasianews (@sciasianews)1590067696.0
For a period Monday night, Cyclone Amphan became the most powerful storm ever recorded in the Bay of Bengal, with winds of up to 165 miles per hour, CNN reported. It weakened before making landfall, bringing sustained winds of 105 mile-per-hour winds and a five meter (approximately 16 foot) storm surge, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. But it was still the worst storm to strike Kolkata in 100 years, The Guardian reported.
Just in: The JTWC has upgraded Super Cyclone #Amphan to 145kt (270kph). Amphan is now the strongest cyclone ever r… https://t.co/xAF5sD3GCA— Eric Holthaus (@Eric Holthaus)1589826038.0
It struck the same week as a study confirmed that the climate crisis is making tropical storms more intense, increasing the chance that a cyclone develops into a Category 3 storm or higher by eight percent per decade since the late 1970s. Cyclone Amphan originally intensified after passing over water temperatures as warm as 88 degrees Fahrenheit, The New York Times reported.
"Sea surface temperatures are much warmer than normal in the Bay of Bengal right now," Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach told CNN.
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1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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