In pre-COVID times, Kolkata would have enjoyed a day like this with a cup of tea and savouries — cloudy skies, occasional drizzle and respite from the May-end heat, all because Cyclone Yaas narrowly missed the city on Wednesday.
But the mood remained sombre. The memories of Cyclone Amphan, which had uprooted thousands of old trees and electric poles only a year ago, were only too fresh. Also, the steady stream of bad news one is becoming accustomed to: someone has lost a parent, someone a friend, someone else his favourite teacher.
“This time we were calmer because the government seemed better prepared to handle the cyclone. We were very concerned about our factory sheds and the material inside — during Amphan there was widespread damage. This time the rain and the breeze were a pleasant change from the crushing humidity of May, but then, the overall scenario is so depressing,” said Ballygunge-resident Anshu Monga Kapur.
It was the destruction caused by Amphan that had made the administration extra-cautious. “We were on high alert. Pavement-dwellers were taken to shelters and food was arranged for them. Police stations were prepared with tree-cutting saws and ropes to clear roads. Teams of the Army and the NDRF were ready to help the police, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation and the CESC (electricity supply company). Fortunately, the storm has passed,” a police officer said late in the afternoon.
Cyclone Yaas, after making landfall, lashed many villages in neighbouring West Bengal as well.
IT professional Rudra Ray said he would have preferred the sound of howling winds to the noise generated by local TV channels covering the cyclone. “We need news, not panic. Impact of the cyclone is visible from the visuals. The anchors don’t have to shout at the top of their voices, that too when COVID-19 has already made us so vulnerable,” said Mr. Ray who last week, within a span of six days, lost his elderly father and mother to the pandemic.