On May 20, 2020, Super Cyclone Amphan hit Bangladesh and West Bengal in India around 1:30 PM and continued until 11 PM. Wind speeds were calculated to be 170 to 185 km per hour. Evacuation efforts started one day prior on May 19, 2020 with 16,000 people being moved to safer locations. At the same time, social distancing measures had also to be taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Baikunthpur Tarun Sangha (BTS), a long-time partner of Vibha joined hands with Vibha volunteers and came forward to help the Amphan affected population. BTS and Vibha have been actively raising funds for the victims of Amphan.
BTS has a total of 125 community volunteers who are trained in disaster management and 45 staff members whose roles are to help with evacuation, enforce social distancing and temporary shelters, serve food, and more. Staff members are working with local panchayats and the government. Sushanta Giri, the founder of BTS, was able to raise awareness and coverage through Kolkata – Times of India and raise 2 lakhs rupees. Of all the total volunteers, BTS has deployed 40 staff and volunteers out to 100 families with children in the areas where Vibha is supporting the work of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS). These areas include the villages of Nagenbad, Kishorimohunour, Binodpur, Ambikanagar, and both North and South Baikunthapur.
Of the 24 operational villages in Kultali and Patharpratima Blocks, 120,000 people have been highly affected where 9,417 families (approximately 40%) have lost their houses. BTS has proposed to rebuild Sundarban to help those who have been affected by this cyclone. There are a total of 3 phases to be implemented to provide relief in these areas. Immediate Relief Operation, the first phase, was taken in the first month after the cyclone hit. This consisted of providing the essentials such as health camps, dry food rations and community kitchens, and hygiene kits to the community. The second phase is split up into two parts, intermediate operations and long-term operations. For intermediate operations, much of the relief is to stabilize fish ponds needed for fish farming, supporting families with livestock by giving veterinary care, and helping with agricultural aspects such as support for fruit tree plantations and giving out vegetable seed kits. The second part of this phase, long-term operations, is to work with the government and panchayat to fully rehabilitate those impacted in the cyclone and taking recommendations to create cyclone-smart low-cost housing.
BTS has been working non-stop toward this cause. These volunteers have been working relentlessly, no matter how bad the weather turned and created obstacles in their mission, to provide relief to the affected families.