Monday, May 25, 2009

Hurricane Aila Kolkata ala re

25th May 2009
Started with rain. Hurricane Aila about to lash the city in 24 hours the papers screamed. And Aila just took 4 hours to come to town. And I have not seen anything like this before. An experience on Byepass road just a few days back forced me to stay indoors out of, Im not ashamed to say, fear. (I was stuck just a week back during a Norwester on the byepass.)
I watched the cyclone hit from the second floor verandah with a baby bulbul and a very drenched crow for company, and I should say, it was one of the most fear inducing experiences I have had. Especially that huge sky-kissing coconut tree I could see in the distance, it was like some wild haired hag on a crazed tandav dance. I didnt think it would survive the storm. It did. Coconut trees usually do. The huge flowering champa tree next door, however, didnt make it. We had some casualties in a few mangoes, a jackfruit which fell and broke the asbestos roofing of the shed, and leaf strewn lawn, and the tank cover that blew away.
The actual storm started at about 11 am and lasted well into the afternoon. Then about 3.30 pm a red alert was sounded. The main storm with winds at 100 kmph was about to hit after 4 pm. Offices cleared out in a jiffy. Phone calls to and fro to everyone one knew to tell them what people already had heard. STAY INDOORS.
That big one didnt hit. News said its crashed on Haldia, some say Orissa coast. But it spared us, if it still can be termed sparing. After a couple of cases of electrocution on the roads, due to fallen lamp posts, the power was switched off through this part of the city, Tollygunj. Our power went at about 2 pm.
The latest- 80 trees down, thats the last count some minutes back. Just 10 on Harish Mukherjee Road. Most roads still closed to traffic. 9 dead in the city, many from trees falling on cars and autos. The whole city ravaged. Byepass, my favourite road, clogged.
Only now at 7.30 pm the power has been resumed. The worst, as they say, is over. The rain continues and is bound to for the next two days, says the MET dept. Thats ok. We need some rain. And with the roads no longer getting water logged, the rain is welcome.
Not Aila.


  1. The Morning After

    35 odd dead in the state as the cyclone missed Kolkata and moved northward into Murshidabad, Malda, Hugli...

    At Level 2, this cyclone still didnt hit at full capacity. The highest wind speed was 120 kmph in the city. The paper says that the last cyclone of this nature was in 1864 which killed 60000 people.

    The scenes on the road as I drove to office were heart rending. So many trees have fallen through the city. The police have done and are doing a very good job to clear the streets. The main road ways are cleared of debris though footpaths and the sides look like they need a weeks job of clean-up.

    Jadavpur still has that huge tree lying through one part of the road. This tree which crashed across the street had yesterday covered both the to and fro streets. Tolly Tram Depot- the tree in front of Sangeet Research Academy was removed late yesterday though half the road is still to be cleared. Byepass road would be clear by now, though there was a lot of debris at the sides at 11 am. Salt Lake main raods are open, many of the smaller arterial streets are still blocked by huge fallen trees.
    The trees which fell are all full grown and with just hand saws it is difficult to cut through them in a short time.
    It was truly heartening to see Mamata Banerjee on the roads late in the evening overseeing clean-up operations. She had instructed Metro Railway workers to help the police in clearing the trees and fallen lamp posts from the road.
    The weather is clear and Kolkata looks like a washed, if slightly battered city. The sun shines brightly today and there is absolutely no water logging anywhere. The coastal areas, including places like Mandarmani and Digha, saw huge waves. Tourists were evacuated. Sunderbans saw 300 deer being washed away. Train services were heavily affected till late at night. There were very few buses and taxis on the roads and those who tried returning home in the late afternoon were in for a rude shock. Flights were suspended till evening.
    By this evening everything should return to normal. Only my heart goes out to the families who lost a member in freak accidents across the state.

  2. Cyclone Aila has caused devastation and massive human suffering in West Bengal. As always, GiveIndia and its partner NGOs are ready to help those in need. Visit

    to make an easy online donation that is tax deductible if you are a tax payer in India, the US and the UK.

  3. Thanks for the update. Your article made for a very good read. Really.

  4. hi, i am from Dhaka, Bangladesh. I couldnt experience this incident the way you did. but many of our coastal neighbors had to go through this unforgiving situation.

    Bangladesh suffered a lot from this cyclone. I have written a post on this subject. you are more than welcome to check it out. thanks.