Daily News Online

Tuesday, 18 January 2011






Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Flood aftermath and responsibility

With the weather gods relenting at last and the flood waters fast receding in the affected areas a monumental task lies ahead for the authorities in coming to terms with the aftermath of the worst flood disaster to hit the country in recent memory.

The immediate alarm would no doubt be with regard to the spread of disease as is the case after any flood and it is hoped the Health Ministry is sufficiently equipped to handle the situation. There is bound to be many waterborne diseases that could be carried far and wide even beyond the affected areas that would need special attention.

Epidemics such as dengue and malaria too are a likelihood in such situations. Government medical teams should be promptly dispatched to the flood ravaged areas to make a full assessment of the situation.

According to reports quoting the Disaster Management Centre, with the receding flood waters those displaced which numbered a staggering 204,118 persons (39,494 families) are gradually returning to their homes with the temporary shelters that housed them fast emptying of flood victims. But the real problem for the authorities will begin when it considers the larger picture of the devastation.

In most areas the returning flood displaced have found their homes fully or partially damaged and most of the household goods washed away by the floods. Among these belongings are not only utility items, furniture, TV sets, refrigerators etc but also valuable documents such as National ID cards, examination certificates, title deeds and other treasured possessions such as family heirlooms and memorabilia. Such loss will be difficult to absorb by the peoples adding to the trauma.

For them it will be starting life anew from the devastation. It would also mean rebuilding from scratch for most who have lost their livelihoods that also fell victim to the raging floods. In this endeavour it is incumbent that they are given all assistance the State could muster not only in the form of the usual compensation but also other support to get over their trauma and pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.

We say this because although the recent floods did not take the magnitude of the boxing day Tsunami in terms of scale of devastation and loss of life there is a parallel on some ways in relation to the trauma and dislocation of life. Not only was there displacement, there is also a loss of livelihood for thousands whose work places and businesses such as garages, tea kiosks, boutiques and trade outlets were washed away in the floods. It would take a long time before they are able to get over their loss.

One should also not forget the vast destruction caused to agriculture land and food crops in the recent deluge which is going to affect the country as a whole. For the farmers it would not only be financial loss but a question of getting back their cultivations into the proper shape which would be a herculean task that would take a very long time. In the meantime there should be some form of succour offered to them to tide over their losses. Restoring these hapless victims into their normal lives would present a huge challenge which the Government alone cannot be expected to handle.

There is need for a collective effort on the part of the general citizenry to contribute their mite to alleviate the conditions of their hapless brethren who were unfortunate to be living in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But from the general apathy that is evident the scale of the devastation has not really sunk into the collective national consciousness. There is no special centre to collect flood relief or food convoys making their way to the affected areas such as during the tsunami.

In this regard it is regretted to note the slow response of most of our service organisations and voluntary bodies and also the corporate sector in general who nevertheless held their usual New Year Dances in Five Star Hotels while in far off Ampara and Batticaloa thousands of their brethren were languishing in temporary shelters sans food and clothing and having lost all their possessions and belongings. There was a singular lack of interest on the part of many that was evident during the tsunami where the entire nation rallied as one in the mercy mission.

Hopefully even at this late stage these corporate bodies and the business community would muster all the resources at their command to help out the displaced and rescue them from their predicament. We often see how mega buck sponsorships are offered to already pampered sportsmen and other celebrities by the corporate sector at the drop of hat. Therefore it certainly is not asking too much from them to take the lead and demonstrate their generosity at this crucial stage.

The devastating floods was a most unfortunate occurrence at a time the Government is set to take the country forward in the development sphere wherein a solid foundation has been established. It is therefore upto everyone to do everything possible to mitigate the effects of the flood disaster so that it would not have a damaging consequence on the country as a whole.

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