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Hurricane 07B in the Godavari Delta, Andhra Pradesh, India: vulnerability, mitigation and the spatial impact

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Few hurricane impact studies provide robust spatial parameters of damage or relate geographical patterns of destruction accurately to storm trajectories or agencies. A detailed spatial analysis is, therefore, presented of the destruction caused by tropical hurricane 07B which made landfall on 6/7 November 1996 over the Godavari Delta region, Andhra Pradesh, eastern India. Patterns of destruction by storm surge, wind and flood water are quantitatively mapped for death tolls, house destruction and agricultural damage using local administrative (mandal) data bases. Results show that most impact occurred near the coast, but a well-defined path of destruction across the central part of the delta can be identified. Such mapping studies fail to indicate the types of individuals and social groups most affected by the storm hazard and their response to it. An investigation of landowning farmers, female migrant rural labourers and fishing communities in the delta shows that poverty and social ordering in Indian society puts differential limits on the risk reduction abilities of individuals and social groups in the face of the cyclone hazard. The paper also demonstrates that ‘top down’ institutional measures to reduce the effects of storm damage such as those introduced in the aftermath of hurricane 07B, including early storm warning and evacuation procedures and rehabilitation programmes, remain largely ineffective. It is suggested that the introduction of more ‘bottom up’ community-based programmes which seek to improve the risk awareness and risk avoiding abilities of affected individuals and groups would be much more beneficial. The case material on hurricane 07B and its effects are placed in context by reviewing and updating long and medium-term time series records of storm frequencies and impacts in the Bay of Bengal and particularly along the eastern coastline of India.
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Keywords: India; coping strategies; hazard mitigation; hurricane; spatial impacts; vulnerable groups

Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: Division of Geography, University of Derby, UK

Publication date: 2001-03-01

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