How Do You Save a Million People From a Cyclone? Ask a Poor State in India

EPA Releases Report Advising Communities to Prepare for Climate Change-Related Disasters

Policymakers at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a report in the Federal Register outlining how local communities should start planning for near-future catastrophes associated with climate change.

As first reported by the Washington Post, the 150-page report – titled “Planning for Natural Disaster Debris” – offers updates to the 2008 report by advising local government bodies to go “beyond resilience to anticipate, plan, and prepare for impacts” of climate change. In particularly, it addresses how local communities can cope with debris and disaster following floods, hurricanes, wildfires only intensified by a changing climate…


How Do You Save a Million People From a Cyclone? Ask a Poor State in India

Passengers at a train station in Kolkata after trains to Odisha were cancelled. Credit: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters

The most vulnerable people, it seemed, had gotten out of the way.  Experts say this is a remarkable achievement, especially in a poor state in a developing country, the product of a meticulous evacuation plan in which the authorities, sobered by past tragedies, moved a million people to safety, really fast.  “Few would have expected this kind of organizational efficiency,” said Abhijit Singh, a former naval officer and head of the Maritime Policy Initiative at the Observer Research Foundation, a research organization. “It is a major success.”

The storm also hit neighboring Bangladesh, but there, too, large numbers of casualties were avoided by evacuating more than one million people to shelters.

This is so different from 20 years ago, when a fearsome cyclone blasted into this same area and obliterated villages, killing thousands. Many people were caught flat-footed in their homes. Some of the dead were found miles from where they had lived, dragged away by raging cascades…

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