CATEGORY three Cyclone Tauktae left more than 26 people dead and thousands of homes destroyed after it hit the coast of Gujarat, India, on May 17.
The cyclone made landfall on India’s west coast, leaving a trail of destruction as the country fights the worst outbreak of COVID-19 in the world.
India continues to post daily infection numbers near 300,000 people while reporting more than 3800 deaths each day.
“After weeks of chaos and loss from COVID-19, this cyclone could not have come at a worse time,” Caritas India executive director Fr Paul Moonjely said.
“Thousands of families have lost their homes while they are also struggling to cope with not just the rapid spread of the virus, but also the serious impacts that lockdowns have had on the economy.
The high velocity winds, reaching as high as 185km/h, caused significant damage to refineries, ports, villages, crops and roads and forced authorities to evacuate more than 200,000 people from low-lying coastal areas, including COVID-19 patients in healthcare facilities.
Vaccinations were also suspended for two days in Gujarat to facilitate evacuations, prompting concerns about the spread of the virus, as the state of Gujarat alone has reported an average of 10,000 daily cases over the past week.
“Caritas India is working with organisations in Gujarat to assess the damage,” Fr Moonjely said.
“In addition to the immediate needs of food, sanitation and hygiene, we’re especially concerned about the long-term impacts for families that have lost their houses and livelihoods.
“It will take many years to rebuild, and rebuilding from disaster will be much harder during COVID-19.”
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