Authorities are gearing up to evacuate close to 4 lakh people from coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh and deploy dozens of National Disaster Response Force personnel as the state prepares to face yet another cyclone, ‘Helen’, which will make a landfall in Nellore late on Thursday night. According to the Met department, Helen has intensified into a severe cyclonic storm and will cross south AP coast between Sriharikota and Ongole, close to Kavali in Nellore. Under its influence, heavy to very heavy rainfall has been predicted at several places with isolated extremely heavy showers over south coastal AP for the next two days.
Changing its direction fast, severe cyclonic storm Helen is now veering towards Krishna district and it is expected to cross the coast near Machilipatnam sometime around Friday afternoon. The second highest danger warning signal No. 10 has been hoisted at Machilipatnam and Nizampatnam and No. 9 signal at Kakinada port. Incidentally, signal No. 11 stands for “devastation and no communication links”.
The entire coast right from Kakinada in East Godavari to Tada in Nellore district appeared in danger with rough sea and ferocious waves hitting the land. The retaining wall at Uppada beach near Kakinada coast was washed away by waves affecting traffic to the beach. At many places, waves as high as two metres were noticed.
Seawater gushed into low-lying areas on the coast in Nellore, leaving fishermen terrified. All coastal mandals in Krishna district were put on high alert following the change of direction of the cyclone. Earlier, cyclone Helen was expected to make the landfall between Ongole and Kavali in Nellore district.
However, the state government asked the district administrations of Guntur, Prakasam, and Nellore too to be prepared to tackle any emergency. Revenue minister N Raghuveera Reddy held a video conference from Hyderabad and reviewed the preparations.