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News  


 

Floods prompt future precautions

By Ishtartha Wellaboda
The disaster that ensued after the torrential rains claimed 28 lives while 4,036 people are still homeless.
Though two weeks have passed since the floods wreaked havoc in many parts of the island, 150 600 people are still affected by its aftermath. According to the Disaster Management Centre (DMC), most of the affected people are unable to go to their homes until the drinking water supplies are restored and houses are cleared of debris.

When The Nation contacted Water Supply and Drainage Minister Dinesh Gunewardane, he said that the water supply to all affected areas was restored to best of his knowledge.
“We have deployed our services to all affected areas and we also deployed four special teams to severely affected districts such as Gampaha, Colombo, Kaluthara and Galle. Other than that there are also special teams at work to clear out the debris from drinking wells,” Minister Gunewardane said.
He added that these teams will work in collaboration with the Medical Officers of Health to identify polluted wells and treat them.

The minister urged that any person still affected can directly contact any of the Water Board field offices or the four special teams regarding their grievances.
Disaster Management Minister A.H.M. Fowzie assured that almost all the displaced have returned to their homes. “We have helped all those who were under our care to return to their homes. All essential facilities will be re-established,” the minister said.

Meanwhile, DMC reported yesterday that 767 houses were completely damaged by the floods. When asked about the government’s stand on this issue, Minister Fowzie said that the government will provide compensation for all those who have lost their homes.

“We have requested all Divisional Secretariats to send us a list of the people whose houses were fully damaged. We will definitely provide compensation for those people.”
The minister added that almost all the houses that were partially damaged were restored and cleaned up.
The DMC is now preparing for the next possible torrential rains and ensuing floods through establishing a special warning programme. The programme, which is different from the early tsunami warning system, employs volunteers to help detect possible floods.

According to Assistant Director of DMC Early Warning Division, Pradeep Kodippili, the new system is based on self awareness and self evacuation. “We have established special committees in almost all of the towns and villages prone to floods. The responsibility of these committees is to monitor water levels in their nearby rivers and lakes,” Kodippili said.

According to him, there are at least 15 committees in each town. “We have determined the number of committees per town after studying the flood hazard map that was put together,” he added.
The DMC provided each of these committees with special rain gauge monitors and river water gauge monitors. The committee members were also provided with special rosters according to which they will have to monitor the gauges.

“If the water levels are above the recommended level, the committees will announce to the villagers to self evacuate. We have already provided them with the necessary training to carry out the evacuation process,” Kodippili said.
When asked about the selection process of these committee members, Kodippili said that most of the selection was done trough the Grama Sevakas who nominate members.
Kodippili ensures that, though the process is not entirely failsafe, it will be an effective tool for battling floods.