UPDATE: Situation report on flood-affected areas and a call for assistance

The Editors of Groundviews have received several updates during the course of the day confirming that the situation on the ground is quite severe and we now have a humanitarian crisis in those flood-affected regions with over 950,000 individuals affected from over 250,000 families. The Disaster Management Centre has confirmed as of 1:00PM today that 18 people have been killed and 47 have been injured as a result of the floods.

Ada Dernana notes the following in a news story published today,

Director General of the DMC, Major General Gamini Hettiarachchi speaking at the media conference said that 11,338 homes had been partially damaged while 1,609 homes had been fully damaged. He added that around 200 tanks had also been damaged in the floods.

Meanwhile, P.B. Samarasinghe, Director General of the Meteorological Department said that rains are expected for the next three days while this was the heaviest rains that the country had witnessed in over thirty years. (Emphasis ours.)

R.M.S. Bandara of the National Building Research Organization (NBRO) said that landslide warnings had been issued in 10 Districts including Matale, Badulla and Kandy where besides the heavy rains, poorly planned constructions on sloped areas had also contributed greatly to the reported landslides.

According to sources on the ground, the SL Army, Air Force and Navy are working hard to deliver food items to flood victims. The World Vision office in Batticaloa and the Red Cross are assisting as well in the relief effort. There is an urgent need for assistance to those victims who are sheltered in schools. With reports that weather conditions could actually worsen over the next few days, it is of utmost necessity that as much relief is delivered as soon as possible to those affected.

At present, there are 295 families at shelters in Chetipalayam and another 156 families Theththatheevu. There are a further four shelter camps in Kaluthwalai with 200 families in Kaluthawalai Mahavidyala, 114 families in Ramakrishna Vidyala, 112 families in Vipulananda and 48 families in Pugalidam.

The relief items required include milk powder for children, sanitary napkins, other basic food items and clothes.

The office of Chief Minister Chandrakanthan released an official SOS call for immediate assistance. The letter highlights the ground situation in the Eastern Province,

600,000 (Batticaloa 232,571, Ampara 317,270, Trincomalee 57,020) people have already left their homes and are residing in safer places. Most of the houses have been submerged and people have lost their belongs (sic.) More than 5000 people have lost their housing utensils and clothes. Considering the plight of the flood victims, please give a helping hand by providing donations and assistance in whatever way.

A Daily Mirror update today noted that other areas are at risk of flooding due to heavy rainfall,

The Ariyamancheni-Neelapola area is facing the threat of floods as several leaks have been detected in the bunts along the Mahaweli River in the Ariyamancheni area. Troops, police and irrigation officers are also engaged in packing sand bags to minimize the damage.

A total of 125 families in Ariyamancheni have been moved to the Lingapuram Tamil College while 121 families in the Sirimangala area have also been moved to the Somadevi Vidyalaya.

Several leaks have also been detected in the stream from Mavilaru to Kalaru and the army is packing sand bags at the moment, the Serunuwara Divisional Secretary Chandana Piyadasa said.

An Ada Derana news update confirmed that President Rajapaksa had to postpone his flood assessment visit and was grounded due to bad weather. A BBC news update notes the following,

Those displaced by the floods have squeezed into 800 camps that have sprung up in school premises, many of which are surrounded by water.

The air force has helped evacuate people and drop food supplies to some cut-off communities.

The government has made an emergency appeal for ordinary people’s help in sending dry rations, mattresses and bottled water.

Clean water and food supplies have been sent by official and international agencies to the worst-hit areas.

But the deputy disaster management minister Duleep Wijesekara said some places, such as Mutur, have been difficult to reach.

Around 200,000 people have been displaced.

HOW TO HELP

The Editors of Groundviews appeal to all our readers to assist in any way possible and to spread the word. The following is a list of organisations and numbers that you can contact to assist the flood victims. This list will be updated as soon as we receive word of other agencies and collection centres.

STITCH – Youth Movement

Please contact:

Dehiwala – Call Prabu on 0774 377477 for details

Moratuwa – Call Prathibha on 0779 851851 for details

Colpetty – call Sabrina on 0777 751718 for details

Wellawatte – Call Divya on 0714 289869 for details

If you would like to volunteer for STITCH, please email them at [email protected]

SARVODAYA

Please contact Mr. Saman Algoda, the Executive Director (0774394577, [email protected]) or Mr. Chamindha Rajakaruna, Director-Programmes (0777710205,[email protected]), or call the general lines on 2655255 or 2647159.

Federation of Youth Club (COLLECTION CENTRE)

86, High Level Road

Maharagama

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Update 8:57PM: “24 hour relief operation is in place by deploying tri-forces to ensure continuous supply of basic needs for the flood affected – Info Dept- JNW.”

This page will be updated as soon as we get more information.

Update 9:37PM: SMS’s from Chanuka Wattegama in Batticaloa we received throughout the day today, reproduced here verbatim.

  • “rain continues, Flood levels increased. Relief distribution poor n disorganised. Mess. 4tos @ sarvodaya.org”
  • “situation is worse. Raind since morn. Relief can’t reach ppl. Supply routes blocked.”
  • “Heavy rains @ batty. Water level rapidly increase. Eravur town may be under water in few hrs at this level cutting off Batti from mainland. Expect worse”

Update 12:50PM, 13th of January 2011: “21 deaths reported, over 1 million people affected due to bad weather.” Daily Mirror SMS update.

  • TT

    The need to retain the undivided state of the nation is what this proves. Imagine a divided Sri Lanka. Who will help victims in the north-east in such an eventuality? Certainly not Sri Lanka. Tamil Nadu, Diaspora? I doubt it.
    If divided, it will be both illegal and impractical to collect aid in Sri Lanka to help Tamil Elam. Border security, redtape, racial concerns will block all such attempts. Managing the water flow, flood control and prevention need an island-wide approach. If divided Sri Lanka will not have any reason to control flooding in Tamil Elam (and vice versa). Due to antogonism, border disputes and politics, the border will be closed at times of disasters making things even more difficult for both sides.
    The lesson to learn from this flood is the need to keep Sri Lanka undivided and the need to have a national policy (not regional policies) to prevent, overcome and mitigate floods, etc. No wonder devolution supporters never talk of natural disasters that are going to be more frequent. From a financial point of view, had the eastern provincial council not been there, billions of rupees will be available to give away to victims that now go to bolster more redtape and governance structures.
    Am I not right?

  • rodger

    Is that why DS Senanayake enacted the Citizenship Act in 1948 and started colonising Sinhalese in the East and stopped economic investment in the Northeast and Tamils started migrating to the South (though shipped to the Northeast every time there was a racial riot)?

    War or Peace in Sri Lanka – TDSA Dissanayake(2004): ”In 1948, the basic qualification for citizenship for aliens anywhere in the world was five years as a permanent resident. For example the Burghers who migrated to Australia needed permanent residence of five years before becoming citizens of Australia. The plantation labour from South India had lived in Ceylon for 75 years or more. However all except those whose parents were born in Ceylon were disenfranchised in terms of The Ceylon Citizenship Act of 1948. The seven Members of Parliament from the Ceylon Indian Congress suddenly lost their right to re-contest their seats in the next parliament.”

  • http://www.climate.lk/ Lareef Zubair

    Drawing on the work of the Foundation for Environment, Climate and Technology (http://www.climate.lk/ ) on weather, climate, disasters and contributing to water management in Sri Lanka operationally for the last decade, there are some lessons and resources that we want to place before groups that are engaged with relief, recovery and later rehabilitation.

    Unfortunately, in Sri Lanka,. as in other places, we just keep seem to be relearning them after every disaster whether it be the 1978 Cyclone and Floods, the 2001-2 drought, the 2003 Floods and Landslides, the 2004 Tsunami and now this.

    LESSONS:
    1. Priority should be given to the regions that are most affected – not that is most accessible from Colombo.

    2. Regions with minorities should not be neglected as happened in the Eastern Coast during the 2004 Tsunami and the 1978 Cyclone in Batticaloa – Eastern Sri Lanka.

    3. The past history of floods and the lessons learned should be implemented – this includes better governance, zoning, and flood risk warning. All too often there are “lessons learned” after each disaster – which are repeated.

    4. The performance of the International Agencies that collect aid should be monitored – they should be pressured to help develop local capacity to deal with disaster risk into the future.

    5. There is a good framework for disaster risk management after the 2004 Tsunami. However, the local agencies have not upgraded their capacity for early warnings in a manner that was useful.
    There should be more support for disaster risk reduction that works in actual practice particularly in the regional level.

    5. There is a perverse set of incentives at work with the Disaster Industry – the more disasters there are, the more funding they get.

    RESOURCES

    1. The present flooding hazard exceeds many in the past. The rainfall
    as pointed out here far exceeds that in the past.
    See the details in the weekly report that is provided for Water Management in Sri Lanka at http://www.climate.lk
    This report shall be updated weekly and special reports shall be provided.

    2. The current flooding has been most severe in the East – see maps at
    http://fectsl.wordpress.com/ . This has been a region with the most catastrophic impacts of the Tsunami – indeed the flooding in January 2005 – a year with only slightly higher than normal rainfall retarded relief soon after the disaster. See postings at
    http://lareef.blogspot.com/2005_01_09_archive.html

    4. The focus should be on vulnerability reduction – income and power inequalities in Sri Lanka militate against vulnerability reduction – see
    http://issues.lines-magazine.org/Art_Feb05/Lareef.htm

    4. The Foundation for Environment, Climate and Technology (www.climate.lk) and a group of scientists at the University of Peradeniya, Mahaweli Authority and the Earth Institute at Columbia University mapped the seasons and regions where there are frequent floods in Eastern Sri Lanka during December-January – see
    http://iri.columbia.edu/features/2007/sri_lanka_maps.html