It was the last working day and I was ready to set out on Puja Vacation. I went to the office to obtain my Headquarters leaving permission. But I was denied.
That day I stayed and next day I was permitted to set off. However, I could not get a bus ticket. During this time of the years the home-ward rush of all the service-holders raise the demand for bus tickets to the highest peak. I roamed in the small market seeking a solution to my problem. I saw a white Indica with the bonnets open. Perhaps the driver had left it open to quicken the engine’s cooling process. I had information that the car will go to Bhubaneswar. I waited for the driver. A lean and lanky boy having a dark complexion and red eyes appeared before me. I knew from his appearance that he had not slept for a night. Another 3 boys also joined and we all started our journey.
3 days before the meteorological department had forecast about a devastating super cyclone which was likely to hit the next day at Gopalpur. So our journey was a race against the approaching cyclone. We had figured that we would reach safely before the cyclone hit the land. Our confidence knew no bounds. I added more confidence to the group by sparing myself as another stand-by driver.
I frequently travel to Phulbani via Rayagada, Muniguda, Tumudibandh and Baliguda. Both on bike and by car I have often covered the distance but when it comes to go Berhampur I am not sure about the route. All my travel mates were also new to the route.
By 11pm we reached Rayagada and had our dinner. I paid the bill. The sky was cloudy and it was raining intermittently and lightly. The rain seemed no threatening. Now we drove up to Gumuda. At a cross road a prominent sign board instructed not to use the road as the bridge is broken. Now the can of worms was opened. We found none to guide us. I resorted to GPS of my mobile and followed the course. The more we depended on the gadget, the more confused we became. A garage owner was seen working in the late night and he gave us an idea about the route. We followed the course as per his description and in the mid night we found ourselves meandering through very slender and rough roads. Now the car climbed a mountainous path. It was too dangerous and the car stalled a number of times. We got down from the vehicle and walked away about 4 kilometres and the driver slowly drove the car behind us throughout the 4 kilometres. The walk through the hills in car’s head light when the weather is windy and rainy will be never forgotten.
We managed to catch the tar road by the morning. Clouds were raging in the sky and the prelude of Phyline was seen. We had to cover another 130 kilometres. It was forecast that in the evening the cyclone would hit Gopalpur. I was now a little tense because the car was giving a lot of trouble. It used to stop at every 4 or 5 kilometres. Before we could reach Digapahandi the vehicle refused to start anymore. At that time it was raining cats and dogs. I thought enough is enough. I came out of the car. It was raining heavily. I remembered some movie scenes where the characters get involved in major actions in such rain. I was now completely wet. I signalled an auto-rickshaw. And I left the car there with other members to bring help for them. I had to hire a new vehicle at Digapahandi. Most drivers were reluctant to move in the cyclonic weather but one young man braved and came forward to our rescue. Money does not matter in such situations.
Now the wind had gained more strength. The vehicle used to feel the pressure. However, we reached at Berhampur. When the driver of the new vehicle took me to my cousin’s home I saw a tree laying flat on the road. The vehicle had to return from that point. I got down from the vehicle and holding my bag tightly ran for the house. The wind blow shattered my balance 3 or 4 times and I was about to fall down. At last I reached at the gates and shouted for my cousin.
Just after 2 hours the devastation began and till today i.e. 23rd Oct, 2013, Berhampur is in darkness without power supply. I have attached few photographs taken during the time.