From the Field

Cyclone Phailin: Facts, FAQs, and how to help

Cyclone Phailin made landfall near Gopalpur, in India’s Odisha state, on Oct. 12, 2013, at 9 p.m. local time. It was the strongest storm to hit India in 14 years, bringing winds of 140 mph and torrential rain that toppled trees and power lines along 250 miles of the Andhra Pradesh and Odisha coastlines.

Cyclone Phailin killed 23 people and affected about 9 million residents. More than 1 million people were evacuated ahead of its landfall to avoid a repeat of the death toll of a 1999 cyclone, which killed 10,000 people. Phailin also destroyed crops worth more than $394 million along with hundreds of thousands of houses, schools, and other buildings.

Cyclone Phailin: Facts, FAQs, and how to help

Explore frequently asked questions about Cyclone Phailin, and learn how you can help children and families in India today.

Cyclone Phailin hit the coast of India’s Odisha state in October 2013, having originated in the Andaman and Nicobar islands near Thailand. Dots show storm location at 6-hour intervals. Colors represent intensity of the maximum sustained wind speed.
Cyclone Phailin’s storm track shows the cyclone’s route from the Andaman and Nicobar islands near Thailand to inland India. Dots are placed at the storm location at 6-hour intervals. Colors represent the intensity of the maximum sustained wind speed. (©2013 Wikimedia Commons)


Fast facts: Cyclone Phailin

  • Cyclone Phailin was the largest storm to hit Odisha and Andhra Pradesh states in 14 years.
  • India’s disaster ministry expected Phailin to come ashore as a super cyclone, with winds in excess of 157 mph, but the storm made landfall as a Category 4 at 125 mph.
  • The evacuation of about 1 million coastal dwellers was the largest evacuation for a storm in India’s history, according to disaster officials.
  • The cyclone damaged or destroyed more than 5,000 educational facilities.


What is a cyclone?

A cyclone is a rotating, organized storm that originated over tropical or subtropical waters and maintains a wind speed stronger than 74 mph. If it originates in the northern hemisphere, it rotates counterclockwise, and in the southern hemisphere, it rotates clockwise.


What is the difference between a cyclone, a hurricane, and a typhoon?

The differences among cyclones, hurricanes, and typhoons are their locations, although scientifically, they are all known as tropical cyclones. Hurricanes occur in the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific. Typhoons are found in the Northwest Pacific Ocean. In the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean, the same type of storm is called a cyclone.


Why is Cyclone Phailin sometimes called a super typhoon, super cyclone, or superstorm?

Cyclone Phailin was also called a super typhoon, super cyclone, and superstorm because of its sustained winds of more than 150 mph before it made landfall in India.


Is India a disaster-prone country?

India may not be the most disaster-prone country, but with its large population, India consistently has one of the largest number of people displaced by natural disasters. In 2017, India ranked fifth worldwide with 1.3 million people displaced due to hazards such as floods (caused by annual monsoons), heatwaves, and landslides. In 2016, disasters displaced about 2.4 million people.


How can I help children and families in India?

  • Pray for children and families affected by poverty and disasters in India and other countries in South Asia.
  • Sponsor a child in India. When you sponsor a child, you will help change a child’s life story and the life of their family and community. You’ll provide access to life-saving basics like nutritious food, healthcare, clean water, education, and more.


How did World Vision prepare for and respond to Cyclone Phailin?

World Vision has worked to improve the lives of children and families in India since 1962. At the time of Cyclone Phailin, the organization served families in more than 5,300 urban, rural, and tribal communities across 26 states, impacting the lives of 2.4 million children.

Disaster preparedness

World Vision’s community disaster preparedness training played an essential role in the successful evacuation of tens of thousands of people ahead of the storm. In Ranpur, a small town in Odisha’s Nayagarh district, 40 community task force teams trained by World Vision coordinated the evacuation of 12,000 people. The task force includes 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 Jagatsinghpur district, World Vision provided megaphones, life jackets, torchlights, and ropes to equip the community task force. Task force members used the megaphone’s siren to alert and call villagers together to evacuate. “We are happy how small yet important things like the megaphones can help in such crucial times,” says Dharmender, director of World Vision’s work in Nirman.

Relief distributions

World Vision was one of the first aid agencies to begin distributing relief supplies to families affected by Cyclone Phailin. Family food kits and household kits were pre-positioned to be available as soon as the roads were opened.

  • Family food kits include rice, jaggery sweetener, beans, puffed rice, high energy biscuits, and bottled water.
  • Household kits contain bed nets, plastic mats, cotton bed sheets, tarpaulin, women’s saree dress, men’s traditional dhoti, cooking utensils, plates, and a bucket.

Long-term recovery

World Vision coordinated with national and local disaster management teams to meet community needs for rebuilding homes, infrastructure, water and sanitation, and restoring livelihoods to benefit 30,000 people.


Learn more about typhoons, cyclones, and hurricanes — how they form and how to prepare.

Disaster Relief

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