Bangladesh weathers tropical storm

20 May 2013

Damage from Tropical Storm Mahasen, which hit Bangladesh in May 2013

The tropical storm that hit Bangladesh last week caused less damage than feared, thanks in part to good preparations.

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Tropical Storm Mahasen, which hit Bangladesh on Thursday, killed at least 13 people and damaged thousands of homes. But it weakened as it advanced over the coast, and flooding was less widespread than expected because the storm surge coincided with low tide.

Good preparations by the Bangladeshi government and aid agencies like CAFOD partner Caritas Bangladesh also helped to limit the storm’s impact. Caritas Bangladesh put 5,000 trained volunteers on standby, and made sure that stocks of food and household supplies were available. They also opened 242 cyclone shelters. In total, around a million people were safely evacuated from coastal areas.

CAFOD’s Mike Noyes says:

“We are very relieved that the storm didn’t develop into a cyclone, and that a major catastrophe was avoided.

“But two decades ago, a storm like this one could still have been devastating in Bangladesh. Today, disaster preparations have improved beyond recognition.

“We’ve worked for years with Caritas Bangladesh to help communities set up early warning systems, and reduce the damage caused by natural disasters – for example by encouraging people to raise their houses and crops so that they don’t get washed away by floods.

“It’s still too early to assess the damage fully, but it seems that these preparations helped to lessen the impact of this storm.

“Our thoughts and prayers remain with all those who have been affected.”

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