Cyclone Thane hit southern India last December, damaging houses and uprooting trees and electricity poles. Forty families in the CFCA project in Chennai were affected by the damage.
Sreekanth Gundoji, CFCA communications liaison in India, recently traveled with CFCA staff members from the Chennai project to see how CFCA is helping these families rebuild after the cyclone. This is his report.
When I visited families in the CFCA sponsorship program who were affected by the cyclone, I observed that most of the families don’t have concrete houses.
Their houses are in the urban slums of Pondicherry.
Due to the cyclone’s severe winds, the houses of 23 sponsored friends in the Pondicherry area suffered damage to the roof and walls.
The homes of two sponsored youth, John Pierre and Jackline, are completely damaged. The whole roof is collapsed.
John Pierre’s story
John Pierre, 17, said the heavy winds came around 3 a.m. on Dec. 30. “We were afraid and went to our grandmother’s house,” he said.
The family left all their belongings in the house and wondered whether they would be able to recover them. Early the next day they went back to the house and saw the roof had collapsed.
All their belongings were soaked, but John Pierre found one piece of good news.
“Luckily my school books are in the cupboard, so they did not become wet,” he said.
John Pierre said his father is a day laborer at the nearby railway station and his mother is a housemaid.
The family’s limited income makes it difficult to bear the expenses of renovating the house.
Kasthuri, Jackline’s mother, said her family also woke up on Dec. 30 because of the noise of the heavy winds.
“When we heard the cracking sounds from the roof, we started rushing towards the gate,” she said. “The minute when we came out of the house, the whole roof felt down.”
Jackline, 17, and her family returned to find many of their belongings damaged, including their clothing.
“Every day we are washing the cloths and clearing the things little by little,” Kasthuri said. “Right now neighbors are giving us shelter, and each one of us is staying in different houses at night. We have to manage like this until our house is repaired.”
Sarita Mendanha, the CFCA project coordinator in Chennai, said staff members are working with families to provide emergency assistance. They helped the families find temporary shelter after the cyclone and will also provide money for roof and wall repairs.
The families of John Pierre and Jackline will receive financial assistance for rebuilding their homes.