India puts my faith back into humanity.
Overnight, as Cyclone Phailin hit the areas surrounding the Bay of Bengal, more than 800,000 were evacuated from coastal villages and farms. The Cyclone hit the states of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa - some of the poorest parts of India. As the BBC notes 'In 1999 a cyclone killed more than 10,000 people in Orissa. At the same time that the Cyclone was pummeling the Bay of Bengal, 89 people were killed in a temple stampede in Central India. 18 were killed by Cyclone Phailin.
The story published by the BBC is not the same story that we are used to seeing in the wake of disasters. The story, instead, is about how we have learnt to protect people and galvanise ourselves against natural disasters.
It's a good thing too, because weather related disasters like Cyclone Phailin are on the increase. Oxfam predicts that the number of people affected by weather related disasters will increase by over 50 percent by 2015, but also notes that 'dramatic weather events themselves do not necessarily constitute disasters'
So the story has changed. It is no longer one of widespread devastation and suffering, but a story of resilience. But before we click back onto the national news, the minimal death toll does not mean that aid is not needed to help people recover from the disaster, but there is good news here too. Suffering in the wake of disasters can be reduced if first response teams are in place before or immediately after the catastrophic event. India's National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) said 1,700 personnel had been deployed to affected areas and these teams have medics and heavy cutting equipment. Cyclones are to India as bush fires are to Australia so emergency response teams know what to expect and how to mobilise quickly.
The other important shift that has occurred in this story is not only in the way that India is handling the emergency response, but who is handling the response. India, like China, needs no external intervention. Not only do they have well trained emergency personnel, but they also utilise the defense force.
In three ways, Cyclone Phailin is a good news story. Not only are we better at minimising the damage caused by disasters but we are better at responding to them and those who do respond are already in the countries or communities hit by the disaster.
It's a good story and one that should put our faith back into humanity. Now if only Al Jazeera can get onboard.