Cyclone devastates Bangladesh

Response planned as storm leaves 230,000 homeless, more than 2,000 dead

November 17, 2007

Disaster response organizations are mobilizing aid in Bangladesh after Cyclone Sidr left more than a quarter million families homeless and killed more than 1,700 when the storm hit the country's western coast.

Cyclone Sidr destroyed thousands of homes, washed away crops and knocked out the power grid. The storm affected 22 districts in the south and southwestern coastal districts, reports said.

The coastal towns of Patuakhali, Barguna and Jhalakathi, with a combined population of 700,000, were inundated by a water surge 15 feet high triggered by the cyclone.

Sidr came ashore Thursday with winds of more than 130 miles per hour. Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated to shelters.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) is among the U.S. faith-based organizations that will respond in cooperation with and as a member of Action by Churches Together (ACT) International.

ACT is a global alliance of churches and related agencies working to save lives and support communities in emergencies worldwide. It is based in Geneva, Switzerland.

Staff members of Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh (CCDB), an ACT member, has already started the initial assessment of the damage caused by the cyclone.

CCDB held a meeting with ACT member, Christian Aid, and some of its local implementing partners Friday to review the situation and the initial plans for response.

Residents on the island of Moheshkali, CCDB said, were evacuated to cyclone shelters, including 44 shelters constructed by CCDB following the devastating 1991 Bangladesh cyclone. PDA provided more $130,000 for that response and shelter construction.

Through its partners, Christian Aid had already been working in the cyclone-affected coastal areas through a community-based disaster preparedness project.

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