Thanks to better planning and preparedness, the government managed to keep casualties low after Cyclone Roanu hit the country yesterday afternoon.
To avoid heavy loss of lives and damage to properties, the disaster management and relief ministry conducted a massive evacuation campaign and mobilised medical aids and succour. Weekly holidays were cancelled for all government officials in 18 coastal districts to keep them ready for rescue operations.
All arrangements were in place to evacuate up to 21.50 lakh people, if needed, from 13 most vulnerable coastal districts, including Chittagong,
Noakhali, Laxmipur and Feni. More than 5 lakh were moved to 3,554 cyclone shelters well before the cyclone made landfall.
The disaster management ministry, fire brigade and meteorological department worked together to keep the impact of Roanu to a minimum, Shah Kamal, secretary to the ministry, told The Daily Star.
"We have experiences from Cyclone Komen [that struck Bangladesh in July last year] and successfully used those to face Roanu," he said.
Government officials of the coastal districts were asked to be ready to join rescue campaigns, maintain communications with deputy commissioners and make people aware of the storm, Kamal said.
"Due to our massive preparation, we could reduce casualties," he said, referring to those in India and Sri Lanka.
The ministry arranged for announcement of the cyclone updates through loudspeakers in costal districts so that people along with their belongings could move to safety.
It also asked deputy commissioners to take steps to shift people to cyclone shelters and keep relief materials at the ready.
The disaster management department opened makeshift control rooms at district and upazila levels.
The authorities repeatedly alerted fishing boats and trawlers to the advancing cyclone and asked them to stay in shelter until further notice.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority suspended operations of water vessels across the country due to bad weather.
In Chittagong, 100 medical teams with 5,000 health workers and a large number of volunteers of Red Crescent had been kept ready. The district administration monitored the situation round the clock.
The Chittagong port authority stopped loading and unloading of bulk cargoes at the outer anchorage of the port and operations of lighter vessels due to rough sea.
Shah Amanat International Airport had all flight operations suspended yesterday. The Mongla port authorities asked all types of water vessels to move to safety before Cyclone Roanu lashed the coastal areas.