News/Current Events

I’ve Stared into The Cyclone’s Eye, Up Close

Digha, where the super cyclone Yash is expected to land is submerged under water. Photo courtesy Ambarish Nag Biswas.

They were cowering in their car at the side of the road which had turned into a river that was swelling every second. It was too late for the disaster management team of the West Bengal Radio Club (Ham Radio) to move to safety. The super cyclone had landed near Digha, where they had been deployed for rescue work. The sky had turned completely black and visibility was zero. “Rain pounded the ground and winds, blowing at over 190 kilo meters per hour, swished around us, sweeping everything into the vortex” says Ambarish Nag Biswas, president of the WBRC (HR), recalling the super cyclone Fani, which had ripped through the states of Odisha and West Bengal, two years ago in May 2019. “Our boys just had to anchor their vehicle like a boat, bobbing up and down on the coastal street which had merged with the sea,” he says. “It is a miracle that they lived through the ordeal and the story they narrated on their return gives us goose bumps even today.”

They fell into the path of the “extremely severe cyclonic storm” as it was called and they saw the “eye”, the hollow centre of the cyclone, with their own eyes. According to one of the men who had witnessed the twister as it passed them, it was like a giant with a massive, spherical body which stretched up to the sky. “We could not take our eyes off it,” he says recalling the terrifying moment. “It is truly a miracle that we survived and I am grateful to the heavens that I and my colleagues lived to tell this tale.”   

Today, as Nag Biswas and his team members await the arrival of the super cyclone Yash, which is expected to crash land between Odisha and West Bengal, the boys who were there that day, are like guides to the others. “Yes, anything can happen but after what I went through and overcame, I am not afraid,” says one of them. He says the incident has instilled in him a rare courage. “I will not trade that experience for anything,” he says.

The team, which has set up radio control rooms in the high impact areas across the state, including Digha and the Sunderbans delta, say that they are “ready for Yash.”

Ambarish Nag Biswas at the control room waiting for Yash.

“That is only an hour away,” says Nag Biswas, looking at his watch. “His radio crackles suddenly. “Wait that could be it,” he says, “I will keep you updated.”

UPDATE: Cyclone Yash made landfall at Balasore, off the coast of Odisha, this morning (May 26, 2021) a little after 9.

Categories: News/Current Events

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