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Tidal surge risk as Cyclone Bulbul nears India and Bangladesh

By Oxfam
On Nov. 6, 2019, NOAA-20 captured this image of Bangladesh and the Bay of Bengal at the onset of Cyclone Bulbul, which has made its way across the Indian subcontinent over the past two days. Image: NOAA

Oxfam is preparing for a potential response to flooding and landslides as Cyclone Bulbul nears the coasts of India and Bangladesh.

The powerful storm forming over the Bay of Bengal is currently expected to make landfall tonight (local time) bringing high winds, intense rainfall and a tidal surge.

It is expected that the west coasts of Bangladesh and West Bengal in India will be hardest hit by the cyclone.

Although Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, southern Bangladesh, are not likely to receive the brunt of the cyclone’s force, flooding and strong winds are still expected to have an impact.

“Oxfam is monitoring the situation and stands ready to respond," said Vincent Koch, Oxfam’s humanitarian lead. "We are concerned that storm damage will cause flooding and landslides. The floodwaters can be quickly contaminated with waste, which can make people sick.

“In the event of floods forcing people from their homes, our emergency teams will prioritize helping the most vulnerable people to get the support they need as quickly as possible.

“The Governments of Bangladesh and India are extremely skilled at managing emergency responses and we are closely following their directions to support both refugees and local communities.”

Oxfam’s emergency cyclone response in India and north Bangladesh would include providing safe water through water trucking and basic household items such as soap. After assessing needs we would consider how best to respond, for example through cash transfers so people can buy food, or distributing dry food if local markets are too damaged to have supplies.

Cox’s Bazar is home to the world’s largest refugee camp where more than 900,000 refugees live in fragile homes built from bamboo and tarpaulin. It is also the poorest district in Bangladesh and local people would also be vulnerable to storm damage.

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