Residents along India's east coast who fled to shelters for safety against India's strongest cyclone in 14 years began returning to their destroyed homes and businesses Monday.
Cyclone Phailin came ashore late Saturday with winds of more than 200 kilometers per hour. More than 10 million people live in the path of the storm in Orissa and neighboring Andhra Pradesh.
Evacuating nearly a million people before the cyclone struck is believed to have helped minimize casualties. Officials say they knew of 17 fatalities, but warned the death toll may rise.
"Damage to property is extensive, but few lives have been lost," a top police officer in the Orrisa district worst hit by the cyclone said.
Fisherwomen and a girl stand in front of damaged house after Cyclone Phailin hit Puri in the eastern Indian state of Odisha, Oct. 14, 2013.
Fishermen clear debris from their damaged houses after Cyclone Phailin hit Puri in the eastern Indian state of Odisha, Oct. 14, 2013.
Boats are seen on an eroded shore after Cyclone Phailin hit Puri in the eastern Indian state of Odisha, Oct. 14, 2013.
People crowd to buy gas after a fuel station resumed its services in Berhampur in Ganjam district, Orissa state, India, Oct. 14, 2013.
Boys sleep on the floor of a wedding hall after leaving their house to take shelter from Cyclone Phailin, in the eastern Indian state of Odisha, Oct. 12, 2013.
A man covers himself with a plastic sheet during heavy rain brought by Cyclone Phailin in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, Oct. 12, 2013.
Men try to remove fallen trees from a road due to the rain and wind in the eastern Indian state of Odisha, Oct. 12, 2013.
A man covers himself with a plastic sheet near Gopalpur junction in Ganjam district, about 200 kilometers from the eastern Indian city Bhubaneswar, Oct. 12, 2013.
People walk among debris from a broken wall after it was damaged by a wave brought by Cyclone Phailin at a fishing harbor in Visakhapatnam district in Andhra Pradesh, Oct. 12, 2013.
A big wave smashes into a breakwater at a fishing harbor in Jalaripeta in Visakhapatnam district in Andhra Pradesh, Oct. 11, 2013.
The cyclone has destroyed hundred of millions of dollars' worth of crops and its high winds cut power and communication, uprooted trees, and damaged coastal homes.
In a Saturday briefing, Disaster Management Commissioner T. Radha said huts and older buildings in the storm's path could not withstand its winds. He also said low-lying areas would likely be submerged.
The Indian army, navy and air force have been deployed to assist with rescue and recovery efforts following Cyclone Phailin, which had been predicted to be one of the country's most powerful storms on record.
Cyclones in the Bay of Bengal are common this time of year, frequently wreaking havoc and causing mass deaths in coastal India and Bangladesh. A cyclone hit Orissa state in 1999, killing at least 10,000 people.