Home Opinion Bangladesh Preparations Mitigated Cyclone Fani’s Effects
Bangladesh Preparations Mitigated Cyclone Fani’s Effects

Bangladesh Preparations Mitigated Cyclone Fani’s Effects

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By Dr. Brian Blodgett
Faculty Member, Homeland Security, American Military University

At least five people were killed and over 832 injured when Cyclone Fani struck Bangladesh last Saturday after passing across India, according to the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society.

Cyclone Fani made landfall in India on Friday night May 3, the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane. It was the strongest cyclone to hit the area in 20 years. By the time it reached neighboring Bangladesh, Fani had been downgraded to a depression, but still had wind gusts of up to 45 miles per hour. More than 1,000 homes in Bangladesh were destroyed and entire villages were under water, the BBC reported.

In the Noakhali district in southeastern Bangladesh, “30 people were injured and two children were killed, one aged 12 and another two years old,” the BBC added.

Bangladesh Coastline and Delta Plain Are Prone to Flooding

Low-lying Bangladesh, with a coastline of approximately 370 miles and a broad delta plain that is prone to flooding, was prepared for the storm.

The majority of Bangladesh is less than 10 meters (30 feet) above sea level. The country is roughly the size of Iowa and typically more than seven percent of its land mass is covered by water, much of it subject to tidal surges.

Cyclone Mora in 2017 was the last major cyclone to hit Bangladesh. Mora, the equivalent of a Category 1 hurricane with winds up to 75 miles per hour, impacted more than 3.3 million people. Mora displaced 200,000 individuals, killed six and injured 136 others.

Bangladesh Modernizes Its Emergency Disaster System

Since Bangladesh learned how to deal with the recurring cyclones by modernizing its early warning systems, developing shelters and improving evacuation plans, Fani’s impact was far less destructive than it would have been in the past.

The nation has erected 4,071 shelters along the coast that can house 2.1 million to 2.5 million persons. In addition, local authorities planned to use schools and other facilities as needed. An estimated 1.6 million people were evacuated from the coastal regions to the shelters. Bangladesh kept its armed forces ready for disaster response and 32 naval vessels prepared to assist in providing emergency relief and medical assistance to the coast areas.

The government was also able to provide residents with potable water, medicine and dry food. About 41,000 packets of dry food and approximately 4,200 tons of rice were distributed, as well as 19.7 million Bangladeshi Taka (nearly US $235,000) in cash assistance. The per capita income in Bangladesh is 123,000 Taka, the equivalent of 1,466 dollars.

In 1970, the Bhola Cyclone killed between 300,000 and 500,000 people.

In 1991, Cyclone 2B caused 135,000 fatalities and more than $1.5 billion in damages because the government and the people were unprepared for its strong winds and tidal surges. As a result, residents did not go to storm shelters. Instead, they waited out the cyclone in their mud and straw huts. When the high winds and the 20-foot tidal surge swept across the area, thousands of people were washed out to sea.

Bangladesh’s Preparedness Was Generally Successful against the Effects of Fani

The most recent reports indicate that Bangladesh’s preparedness was generally successful. Fani hovered over the nation early Saturday, battering the country with rain. Nearly 90,000 acres of crops were damaged, but the Ministry of Food announced that there would not be a food shortage because of the national stockpiles of rice and wheat.

Due to Bangladesh’s improvements in disaster preparedness, the nation is far better prepared for the devastating impact of cyclones than it was in the past. Those preparedness and responsive measures were successful in limiting the loss of lives and damage.

About the Author

Dr. Brian Blodgett is an alumnus of American Military University who graduated in 2000 with a master’s of arts in military studies and a concentration in land warfare. He retired from the U.S. Army in 2006 as a Chief Warrant Officer after serving over 20 years, first as an infantryman and then as an intelligence analyst. He is a 2003 graduate of the Joint Military Intelligence College where he earned a master’s of science in strategic intelligence with a concentration in South Asia. He graduated from Northcentral University in 2008, earning a doctorate in philosophy in business administration with a specialization in homeland security. 

Dr. Blodgett has been a part-time faculty member, a full-time faculty member and a program director. He is currently a full-time faculty member in the School of Security and Global Studies and teaches homeland security and security management courses.