Thursday, January 13, 2011

The current floods in Polonnaruwa and the ongoing relief & rescue operation

My earlier entry was of my personal experience of the first day of the Polonnaruwa district flood, and how it affected me and my property. This is a follow up to it.

My home was completely underwater for less than 12 hours during the worst of the river swelling and bursting its banks due to the various sluice gates being opened of nearby tanks or reservoirs. It is now a question of salvage what I can and wash down and dry the place up with no help from sunshine.

However the more severe consequences are further downstream as the water eventually flows down to the Mahaweli River, and the river basin is completely flooded. The water level having risen 20ft has therefore gone into the hinterland, drowning the paddy fields for at least a kilometer outwards from the riverbank. The destruction to homes is more permanent and the extremely slow response from disaster management who were caught napping yet again is regretful.

Today is Thursday and only now once the BBC reporters have come to report the destruction and is shown in Sri Lanka as well where those have access to those channels can we actually see the moving images of the destruction, which while shown to some extent on local television was less graphic and less serious as those shown in International TV channels. Was this an attempt to hide the truth and also avoid blame for the slow response? I don’t know.

In my personal circumstances, after I had been able to save some of my property, they could not be protected overnight as they had to be left out on higher ground in the open. Well a few important things such as my nearly new HaySprayer to spray the paddy and other crops was nicked, a great blow to me as it is not cheap. Then a male calf also succumbed to too much rain, and had to be buried. Today we had the person in charge of the fertilizer distribution, on the property to survey the damage, and report to her superiors who each property has been affected.

In the overall context the need for disaster preparedness is more evident, as many people had to be housed in schools, while their possessions left behind were fair game to thieves. This lack of protection for individual property, where poor steal from other poor people is a fact, that can be addressed only as part of the overall morality teachings as young children. It is difficult to do when the examples set by those in power who steal from the rich and the poor alike seems to be admired and not punished.

It is important that respect for private and public property be ingrained into the psyche. Finally I all I can wish is that those people who are affected be immediately assisted especially with regard to their urgent needs.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Please note that the Minister in Charge of Disaster Management is currently on an official visit to Pakistan!! Such is the level of importance placed at the Government level to this national tragedy where over 1M people have been severely affected.