After traveling 12 hours, a Gospel for Asia Compassion Services team arrived in a coastal town in Odisha, India, to find destroyed mud homes, broken fishing boats and nets, and many people filled with despair. Cyclone Phailin has left more than 500,000 people homeless, according to Odisha state officials.
"People were sitting on the roadside with sad looks," said GFA pastor Alok Peter. "Many of the people say, 'Nobody helps us,' and 'Even the government could not help us in time.' In fact, we were the first people to reach [this place] and take a survey."
Peter's team had left for the town at 6 a.m., but fallen trees and sections of road filled with up to 2.5 feet of water forced the team to stop a dozen times. By the time they arrived, it was already 6 o'clock in the evening.
On October 12, 2013, the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha were hit by Cyclone Phailin, a Category 4 storm roughly half the size of India
Besides halting traffic, fallen trees and strong winds have damaged many power lines. The only electricity in this area comes by generator for a few hours at a time. Some predict it will take more than a month to repair the downed lines.
Like their neighbors, believers in the surrounding villages lost most, if not all, of their belongings, and many farmers lost their livelihoods when the storm damaged more than 1 million acres of crops across the Indian states of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.
Villagers are repairing or rebuilding their homes during the day and returning to relief camps each night, but the villagers were still in the area when the team arrived.
"When we visited them, actually, our believers were crying," Peter said. "They were sad, but on the other hand, they were happy that their church people visited to see them in their difficult situation. They said, 'Our church people came to see us. That itself is a great comfort for us.'"
The government has guaranteed food for three days, but villagers worry about what will happen afterward.
"The people look very helpless, and their main problem is that nobody helps them on time," Peter said. "Our main concern is to help them with some food and shelter when we visit these places."
Peter's team will visit relief camps next, as well as an affected church. Meanwhile, the need for relief continues to grow as floods resulting from Cyclone Phailin have stranded more than 200,000 people.
Please pray for:
* Safe and quick travel for our Compassion Services teams as they seek to provide relief to victims.
* Provision for our teams' needs and the needs of those they are helping.
* Comfort and encouragement in the Lord for the believers affected by this storm.
* Many to understand and receive Christ's love through our teams' efforts.
* Safety for those affected by floods and wisdom for the military personnel working to rescue them.