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Rebuilding in Fear

It has been five days since Cyclone Amphan entered the shores of West Bengal and Odisha, leaving a trail of devastation and no one came to see him. Fifty-five-year-old Akash Das is angry and in pain. He belongs to Vetapukuria village, Deshapran block in east Medinipur district of West Bengal. There are 13 members in the family that are now sharing space with the neighbours.  Akash Das knows that this cannot continue for long.

The damages from cyclone Amphan cannot be accounted for; the effort is now to get a safe roof over their head. The brick and mud wall in the front of the house is collapsed and so has the verandah wall on one side, leaving his house exposed to unpredictable weather. Akash somehow managed to secure it with a white and orange recycled Tarpaulin sheet. The cowshed has been damaged too; however, he was able to take three cows to a safe place just before the cyclone.

At this critical time, Akash Das did not have the liberty to wait any longer. He took a loan of Rs 5000 and started rebuilding his house. He salvaged the mud tiles and hired a mason to fix the roof. “I cannot afford a mason to rebuild my house. Along with my sons, I will be temporarily fixing the walls with whatever I can salvage. The mud and brick house stands on the bamboo structure and he plans to replace the damaged bamboo. Akash has been working on the house for 3 days and estimates that it will take him 8 more days to fix it to settle in.

Akash Das and his three sons work in a brick kiln. Recounting the day of cyclone, he says “We were so terrified, and we did not know what was happening around us.” Due to Covid-19 crisis, Akash has already taken a loan of Rs 15000. “We have not worked for two months due to the lock down. And now the cyclone has totally shattered us,” says Akash Das with tears in his eyes.