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World Vision prepares communities as cyclone the size of Hurricane Katrina threatens India

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BHUBANESWAR, India (October 11, 2013) — World Vision staff are on alert and have made preparations as Cyclone Phailin continues to intensify on its trek towards India.  Forecasters predict it could be the strongest tropical event world-wide this year.  According to the U.S. Navy, wind speeds are expected to be over 160 mph when the storm hits the coast between the states of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha this weekend. 

Already World Vision teams on the ground are seeing signs of the storm.

"Our staff along the coast have been seeing rain falling continuously and winds pick up.  People have been trying to stock up on essentials and that has caused the price of many items to be driven higher," said Dharmendra Naik, manager of World Vision’s programs in Jagathsinghpur district. 

"In a storm of this magnitude there is the potential for widespread damage to crops and livestock in the low-lying coastal areas and houses completely wiped away. So while we are praying this storm loses intensity, we’re also preparing," said Kunal Shah, the head of World Vision’s emergency response in India.

So far, the government has evacuated more than 300,000 people living in coastal villages. The people have been moved to cyclone shelters and schools built on elevated areas. However, government officials warn nearly 12 million people are still in danger of being affected. The cyclone is projected to be the same intensity, if not worse, than one that struck Odisha in 1999, which killed over 10,000 people.

Several of World Vision’s programs are in the direct path of Cyclone Phailin.  Staff have been alerting communities and providing megaphones, life jackets, torch lights and ropes to the Community Task Force. The Community Task Force consists of men, women and youth from within the community who are trained in disaster preparedness including search and rescue, basic first aid and protecting livestock.  In addition, 6,000 response kits have been pre-positioned so they can be deployed immediately if needed.  The kits contain bed nets, plastic mats, cotton bed sheets, tarpaulin, cooking utensils, plates and a bucket.

World Vision has been working for several years with vulnerable communities in India to help them better prepare for severe weather events.  With the organization’s help, communities prepare plans for what they will do when a disaster strikes.Families with livestock or crops have also received training to take immediate action and protect their livelihoods from the storm.

"We believe communities are better prepared than they were when the devastating cyclone hit in 1999," Shah said. "The government and aid organizations like ours have been working tirelessly to make sure that people take notice when they see weather predictions like these and that they have a plan for where they will go and what they will do if they need to evacuate."

World Vision is also in touch with local, state and government officials in India to ensure a coordinated response.

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World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, please visit www.WorldVision.org/press or follow us on Twitter at @WorldVisionNews.