Galle, Ambalangoda residents angered by state failure to respond to flood damage

By Jeevananda S. Kaviratne

Hundreds of heads of cattle, buffalo and chickens have disappeared in flood waters in Ambalangoda and the surrounding areas, while hundreds of houses have been damaged. Flooding has caused widespread damage and destruction as a result of flooding, with the low-lying areas being the worst affected.

Residents have been highly critical of the authorities for failing to act in a timely fashion in response to the crisis.

Several entrepreneurs have lost stocks in the cinnamon, coir and other small industries. Antique dealers say they have lost antique items worth lakhs of rupees, while timber dealers say they have lost timber worth millions. Cinnamon plantations, tea cultivation, home gardens and vegetable plots have also been damaged or destroyed.

Meanwhile, earthslips have added to the damage to houses, crops and industry. Many villages continue to remain under water, leaving families stranded or marooned. Dugout canoes are being used to ferry flood victims to safety.

Tsunami housing schemes have also suffered damage, because of the use of low-quality building materials . Toilets are overflowing, causing great inconvenience to households. Villagers say no action has been taken by the Disaster Management Centre or any other authorities to provide relief to the families and persons.

All the wells that provide clean drinking water are filled with contaminated flood water, while damaged toilets are causing environmental and health hazards in areas in the Galle district affected by the floods.
Galle residents say the lack of a contingency mechanism in disaster management has held up relief assistance.

In the first few days of the rains, cooked food was provided by neighbours living in safe areas, while the Grama Niladaris struggled to collect statistics relating to flood-affected families. Meanwhile, unauthorised structures and landfills have blocked the water flow from paddy fields, marshes and catchment areas. Flood waters are receding at a very slow rate.

Flood victims have been vehemently critical of the authorities for failing to respond to the emergency situation. Protesters gathered in Batapola to point out unauthorised landfills in the middle of paddy fields, canals and reservations.

Mother and daughter drown on the way to school

By Hiran Priyankara Jayasinghe

Rushing flood waters claimed the lives of two residents of Dankotuwa last week. On the morning of Tuesday, May 18, Tharushi Noela Kumari, a Grade 4 student of Wellawa Vidyalaya, was on her way to school with her brother Heshan and their mother. The family had not heeded the advice of a school teacher, who had told parents not to send their children to school that day. Flood waters were three feet deep.

As they attempted to make their way through the flood waters, all three got caught up in a rushing body of water. Mother and daughter disappeared from view, while Heshan ended being thrown against a wire fence.

Heshan, who could not find his mother and sister, went home alone to tell his father what had happened. The body of the mother was found that evening, and that of Tharushi the next day. Her body was recovered more than three kilometres from her home.

Floody blow to kasippu industry

The illicit liquor or kasippu industry has suffered a body blow in the recent floods that have destroyed its distilleries, a senior Excise Department official said yesterday

He said the worst affected was the Gampaha district, the largest moonshine producing region in the country.

“With the flood waters at knee high level it will be almost impossible to keep fires burning that is needed to turn out the illicit brew. Moreover, most illicit distilleries are located alongside the banks of water ways, and these were the very areas that were severely affected in the recent flooding,” the official said.
Some of the areas known for the illicit distilleries in the Gampaha district are Dankotuwa, Minuwangoda, Kotagoda, Jaela and Kandana.

Donate drinking water

The Disaster Management Centre yesterday made a public appeal for 200,000 bottles of drinking water to be distributed among the flood-displaced people in the Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara, Puttlam and Ratnapura districts.

National Coordinator Pradeep Kodippilli said the DMC was making the appeal because wells and other natural sources of fresh water had been contaminated.

He said the Kalutara, Colombo and Gampaha districts needed 50,000 bottles of water each, while 35,000 bottles are needed for Puttlam flood victims and 10,000 for Ratnapura victims.

Mr. Kodippilli said that those willing to assist can handover bottles of drinking water to the closest district secretariat.

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Galle, Ambalangoda residents angered by state failure to respond to flood damage


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