K Shriram, a fisherman, points to a place in the sand where his house stood. There is no trace of it now. His house was among the 150-odd houses that were swallowed by the sea in this village, among the worst hit by Cyclone Phailin, in Ganja block of Ganjam district.
“I have saved myself and my family, but my house is gone. I have lost my fishing nets, boat and everything that I owned,” says Shriram. A concrete structure where the fishermen dried their catch is also gone, swept away by the waves just after midnight Saturday.
“The waves were three times higher than the ones during the 1999 supercyclone,” says L Massini, 70. “I have never seen the sea so angry.”
Of the 300-odd families living in the village, half have lost their homes. While there was no loss of life as everyone rushed to the cyclone shelters, many have lost their means of livelihood — over 50 boats and 100 fishing nets are gone. “When I returned from the cyclone shelter, I did not find anything. Everything was gone,” says K Kusa, a young fisherman.
P Buchamma, in his late forties, had spent about Rs 70,000 on a fishing godown which housed an ice-crushing machine. The ice was used to store fish in huge plastic boxes. It is all gone now. “I used all my savings to build the godown about a year back,” says Buchamma.
O Shakti Babu’s fishing godown was also torn apart by the waves. The high speed winds blew away a part of the concrete roof, leaving his entire fishing stock, worth about Rs 60,000, wet. “I used to send my stock to Mumbai, Goa, Pune, Howrah, Bangalore and Chennai. But now I have become a beggar,” he says.
B Kameswari did not have a godown of her own. But the waves washed away her thatched-roof house. C H Kamini, a nine-year-old girl who studied at the local primary school, is sad over the loss of her books. She spent Saturday night with her grandmother.
C H Karadu and his wife had just bought a new motorised boat for Rs 50,000. The boat is now lost to the sea. For the last two days, he has been walking across the endless sand, hoping to find it. “He still thinks he can find his boat somewhere in the sea,” says his son, Trinath.