Members of India’s National Disaster Response Force take part in a training exercise in in 2017.
In 1999, the eastern state of Odisha in India was hit by a devastating cyclone that claimed more than 10,000 lives. It was a national tragedy that spurred an overhaul of India’s disaster response apparatus — the results of which have been visible as the country prepared for Cyclone Fani.
In years since the 1999 disaster, India created a new disaster response infrastructure.
In 2005, India introduced new laws to set up what’s called the National Disaster Management Authority, a central agency charged with one thing: responding to and minimizing the impact of disasters.
A year later, in 2006, India established a National Disaster Response Force, a specialized corps of highly trained men and women focused on disasters such as cyclones and earthquakes. It’s now comprised of almost 25,000 personnel.
These specially trained responders — working with personnel from India’s wider armed forces — have been on the ground ahead of Fani’s landfall, working to avoid a repeat of 1999.
Working with volunteers, local officials and NGOs, they have been moving door-to-door along the coastal villages asking people to evacuate. For those who insisted on staying, they trained them on necessary precautions to be taken.
Hundreds of shelter homes have been set up and over one million people have been evacuated.