Coast gears up to face double whammy; cyclone amid COVID-19 pandemic

Heavy to very heavy rains with gusty winds predicted on Saturday and Sunday.

District administrations of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi that were already fighting the COVID-19 pandemic have geared up to face the double whammy in the form of a cyclone that was in the process of being formed in the Arabian Sea and likely to hit Kerala and Karnataka coasts on Saturday and Sunday.

With the India Meteorological Department predicting the low pressure formed in the Southeast Arabian Sea and adjoining Lakshadweep area on Thursday could develop into a cyclone, the Karnataka State Disaster Management Authority has issued alerts to coastal districts to get ready to face the cyclone.

To be named Tauktae when it is formed, the cyclone was expected to hit the Karnataka Coast on Saturday with winds gusting at the speed of up to 80kmph coupled with rains. KSDMA has issued red alerts for Saturday and Sunday in Karnataka Coast predicting heavy to very heavy rains.

Dakshina Kannada Deputy Commissioner K.V. Rajendra told The Hindu he conducted an emergency video-conference meeting with district officials on Thursday asking Revenue Department officials to alert all people residing in low lying areas and make plans to shift them to safer locations. Coast Guard has already began shepherding fishing vessels to the shore even as the Coastal Security Police were on high alert, he said.

As the disaster was approaching amid COVID-19, the DC told officials to keep tab on home isolation cases and it would be better to shift them to Covid Care Centres if their houses were in low-lying areas. This avoids mixing up of patients in case of floods. Relief centres would be opened if needed.

Dr. Rajendra said people residing in houses identified as prone to landslides should shift to relatives’ houses or relief centres. Any ongoing road work that might get flooded should be barricaded. He also asked officials to check all power lines and poles while the local administration along with Forest Department should immediately attend to tree falling cases.

Mangaluru Mayor Premanand Shetty has instructed officials concerned to speed up storm water desilting work so as to avoid artificial flooding during very heavy rains.

Udupi Deputy Commissioner G. Jagadeesha issued similar instructions in the district and asked officials not to leave their headquarters during the period.

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