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
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
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