Water levels in all major rivers had decreased and flood victims in over 200 welfare centres had returned to their homes, as of Friday, June 1. The pre-monsoon conditions affected Sri Lanka with a deluge of rain last week, resulting in floods in 23 out of the 25 districts. People residing on the banks and surrounding areas of major rivers including Kelani, Kalu, Gin, Nilwala, Maha Oya and Attanagalu Oya were issued flood warnings while sluice gates were opened in reservoirs including Kukule Ganga, Deduru Oya and Rajangana tank.
The flood affected 174,310 persons from 45,680 families. Twenty six persons were reported dead due to drowning, lightening and falling of trees. Over 70,000 people, infants and elderly alike were housed in 265 temporary shelters managed by the National Disaster Management Center (DMC) in 12 affected districts. Transport services were down to a minimal and electricity and drinking water were a challenge for those affected by floods. Over 850 troops from the tri-forces, the police and the civil defense force were deployed in relief and rescue operations, while over 5,000 troops were ready for emergency response. Seven helicopters were deployed in the operations in addition to 25 trucks and earth movers, over 108 boats and 47 catemarans operated by the troops.
The Puttlam district inundated by floods had the highest number of victims stranded at safety centres where 13 centers were in operation with 258 families on Friday. Further, it recorded the highest numbers in flood damage with 96 critical infrastructure and 169 business establishment destructions and 53 fully damaged houses. Colombo recorded the highest number of partially damaged houses with a total of 2,270.
As the situation normalized the troops were seen engaged in clearing, restoring and cleaning operations in the areas affected by floods. The clearing and cleanup operations are on its final stages, said Janaka Handunpathirajage, Assistant Director, Media and Public Relations, DMC. Data collection on flood damage is in progress. Families of the diseased were granted Rs. 100,000 each to cover funeral expenses.
The National Disaster Relief Service Centre (NDRSC) disbursed Rs. 25 million, one million each in the 25 districts in preparation to meet the costs of immediate response measures, said NDRSC Director, Chaminda Pathiraja. In addition, Rs. 55.45 Million was disbursed in 13 affected districts for emergency relief assistance such as providing cooked meals, dry rations, sanitary supplies and bedding for those housed in temporary safety centres. Moreover, essential items such as generators, life jackets, blankets and clothing were released from the national warehouse to the flood affected areas, he said.
While assessment of housing and other infrastructure damage continued, NDRSC disbursed a total of Rs. 49.12 million in 21 districts where compensation was paid for housing damage. “This is an interim measure until proper assessment is done. Houses and other properties are insured under the National Natural Disaster Insurance Scheme and eligible to get up to Rs.2.5 million in compensation. As the assessment goes on we grant compensation up to a maximum of Rs. 10,000.
If the damage is assessed less than 10,000 they get the exact amount. However, if it is over that amount, they get the rest from the insurance scheme later on,” he explained.
Though no breakdown of electricity was recorded due to floods, approximately 50 transformers were closed down as a precautionary measure, said Sulakshana Jayawardene, Spokesperson, Ministry of Power and Energy. However, as of Friday, they were energized and the electricity supply line breakdowns happened on 28th and 29th of May, in the central and southern provinces due to high winds would be completed soon, he stated.
The CEB had managed to restore the high-tension line breakdowns. However, restoration of the low-voltage lines was on its final stage as of Friday. While more than 75,000 consumers were stranded without the supply of electricity during the floods and high wind conditions, by Friday the number had decreased to less than 3,000 he said. The CEB plans to restore services completely by Saturday