On 20 May, Super Cyclone Amphan hit some of the poorest areas of India and Bangladesh.
The storm wreaked havoc, with winds of up to 185 km/h along with heavy rain and sea surges. It destroyed houses and crops, and cut power supplies to cities and towns.
An estimated 500,000 families have lost their homes and over 3 million people across the two countries are living in collective centres.
These are places where people were already struggling to contain the coronavirus pandemic. There is a lack of clean water, health care and resilient housing.
Now, families are dealing with a double threat. They are trying to survive after the storm has taken their homes and livelihoods – as well as avoid the potential spread of coronavirus in crowded evacuation centres where social distancing and regular handwashing are extremely difficult.
Families will urgently need shelter to maintain social distancing and be less exposed to the risks of coronavirus.
Without urgent, effective action, lives could be lost on a huge scale.
What support do people need?
Families need emergency shelter and other essential items like water filters and mosquito nets to help them survive and keep safe from coronavirus.
Global travel restrictions are making it tougher for us to do our work, but we are in touch with contacts and local NGOs in Bangladesh, to understand the situation on the ground.
Our aid stored in Dubai can be mobilised quickly. Our strong relationships with local partners and Rotary groups, along with our knowledge of working in Bangladesh many times, all means we are in the best possible position to help families who have lost their homes to this storm.
Cyclone Amphan (pronounced Cyclone Um–Pan) started making landfall on Wednesday 20 May. It is the first super cyclone to form in the Bay of Bengal since 1999.
It began by hitting the Sundarbans, around the India-Bangladesh border, before moving towards the historic city of Kolkata.
Reports suggest that power lines are down in many areas, trees have been uprooted, roofs were torn off and large areas are inundated with floodwater. Thousands of homes have been damaged, and further heavy rains and thunderstorms are continuing to batter the affected areas.
The name ‘Amphan’ means ‘sky’. A panel, made up of India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Maldives, Oman, Sri Lanka and Thailand, names cyclones in the region. The name Amphan was chosen by Thailand in 2004.
Cyclones, typhoons and hurricanes are all tropical storms. The only difference is where they form. Cyclones form south of the equator, typhoons form in the West Pacific Ocean, and hurricanes form in the tropical Atlantic and the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Learn more about cyclones here.
How does shelter save lives during coronavirus?
Coronavirus is a deadly risk for vulnerable families who have lost their homes. But shelter can save lives by:
- Helping families to self-isolate and stay as healthy as possible
- Helping to adapt or expand a vulnerable family’s home to ease overcrowding and allow social distancing
- Helping people move from evacuation centres where families live close together
- Helping to reduce sharing of essential household items between families
By slowing the spread of the virus, shelter can save lives. You can give people shelter by supporting us today.