Elderly woman in WB braves Amphan for 8 hrs, survives

Elderly woman in West Bengal braves Amphan for 8 hours, survives  

Volunteers and residents work to repair a damaged dam following the landfall of cyclone Amphan in Burigoalini on May 21, 2020. (Credit: AFP Photo)

The will to survive can make even an ordinary person stand up to life-threatening dangers and live to tell the tale. An elderly woman from West Bengal’s North 24 Paraganas district is one such person who took on the deadly cyclone Amphan as it barreled towards land with wind speeds gusting up to 185 km per hour.

It was around 9 pm on Wednesday when Anjali Baidya, a resident of Bainara village in North 24 Paraganas district and her husband Niranjan Baidya could not trust their mud hut located near the local Dasa river anymore. With the storm gaining more speed every moment, they decided to move to a safer place.

Also read — Quarantined migrants to make space for Amphan-affected people in Odisha

Before leaving the hut they were letting their cattle loose so that the animals could save themselves. Suddenly, the Dasa river breached its embankment and they were swept away.

As the river was tossing her around on its way forward, suddenly Anjali’s dress got stuck into a branch of a guava tree. Despite the overwhelming danger, she did not lose her presence of mind and immediately clung to the tree with all her strength knowing it was her only chance of survival.

Wave after wave rushed over her but somehow she hung on. At that time she did not even know where her husband was or if he was even alive. She ducked her head when a wave arrived to avoid the full force of the impact. All she had was a little torch in her hand.

Also read — Cyclone Amphan: UN chief commends India, Bangladesh for life-saving work

Anjali kept waving her torch as a signal to draw the attention of her neighbours. Locals said that her fight continued from around 9.30 pm on Wednesday to 4 am on Thursday. As the storm subsided on the early hours of Thursday her neighbours finally spotted her and she was rescued.

“Fortunately my husband is alive and well. After the river swept him away he somehow got stuck in a nearby cluster of bamboos and hung on,” said Anjali.

But the river has swept away her house and every other belonging.

“The river has made me a beggar. I have no idea how I will earn my leaving,” said Anjali.

She and 100-odd other locals have taken shelter on the embankment in rickety tents made from plastic sheets.   

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