At least 72 people have been killed and thousands left homeless in West Bengal, India, after Cyclone Amphan ripped through the state on Wednesday May 20th. Amphan, which was the most powerful cyclone ever recorded in the Bay of Bengal before it weakened, destroyed homes, trees and bridges, and left rural areas without power or communications.
Fortunately, although ISKCON’s Mayapur campus was affected, the damage was minimal.
The cyclone reached Sridham Mayapur on Wednesday evening with severe wind gusts of 160 kph (100 mph), accompanied by torrential rain and tumultuous sounds.
Communication and power lines were knocked down
Community leaders informed devotees of the approaching cyclone, and gave them recommendations on how to prepare for the impact. As the Sarasvati Nagar area of the campus, with its many temporary tin houses, was expected to be the worst affected, leaders arranged for residents to spend the night in brick buildings owned by other community members.
In the morning, after the winds had somewhat subsided, Mayapur managers assessed the state of the community and campus.
“Everyone was relieved to find that the Deities, devotees and cows were all well,” says Mayapur Administrative Council spokesperson Subheksana Das. “Many big trees were uprooted or snapped in half, blocking the roads and damaging fences, walls and electrical poles, but there was no major damage to the campus. Signboards, temporary fences, tin sheds and massive tree branches were scattered on the ground. ”
Fences were torn down
A cleaning operation began immediately.
The Radha Madhava Temple reported no damage, and service to Their Lordships continues without interruption. The Temple of the Vedic Planetarium also reported no damage to the temple or construction site.
The goshala (cow shelter) was spared, and all the cows are safe, as are as the Mayapur elephants. Many trees on the elephant’s premises, however, were torn down, and significant effort will be required to clear them.
Many branches littered the Mayapur campus after the cyclone passed
“In the Sarasvati Nagar sector, two tin houses lost their roofs,” says Subheksana. “Several devotees reported that they did not get any sleep, as they had to pull their roof down during the night so that it wouldn’t get ripped off by the wind.”
Many residential sectors of Mayapur also reported loss of electricity.
“Unfortunately, that might continue for a prolonged period of time, while the government attempts to reinstall the fallen and damaged transformers and electrical lines,” Subheksana says.
Trees blocked roads to the campus
Another challenge involved sixty Russian devotees who were stranded in Mayapur due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The devotees were due to leave Mayapur on Thursday morning for their repatriation flight from Kolkata.
“There was lots of anxiety about whether they would be able to reach Kolkata, as even the local road outside the campus was blocked by fallen trees,” Subheksana says. “However, with the prompt help of the local management, the trees were removed to give way to the devotees’ bus. We wish them a safe journey and pray that they can reach their destination without any further hindrances.”[ amphan ] [ cyclone ] [ mayapur ]