Wednesday, 12 January 2011 00:25 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The line of shops on Main Road Batticaloa closed due to heavy flooding since Sunday - Pic by K.S.Vathanakumar

Floods whack economy

  • Damage estimated at billions as death toll climbs to 16; over 900,000 displaced; thousands of buildings and agriculture land affected
  • Govt. allocates Rs. 100 million for flood victims; Appeals for public and Diaspora assistance to help victims

By Shezna Shums

Current floods in several parts of the country especially in the Eastern and North Central provinces have caused considerable socio-economic damage.

Sources said that the death toll has climbed up to 16 apart from injuring nearly 50 by yesterday afternoon whilst around 937, 502 persons from 249,107 families have been displaced or affected.

The floods, heavy rainfall, high winds, landslides and falling trees have created havoc all over the country severely inconveniencing the people. Damage has also been caused to livestock, paddy cultivation as well as archeological and historical places.


Minister of Disaster Management Mahinda Amaraweera said that the damage caused by the floods has been estimated at Rs. 30 billion. As an urgent measure the Government has allocated Rs. 100 million to help victims whilst a nationwide appeal was issued for public assistance to help those affected.

As of yesterday a total of 453 camps for the Internally Displaced had been set up affording shelter to 47, 937 families consisting of 180, 151 persons. The damage caused to houses has been enormous. 1128 houses have been fully damaged the partially damaged houses number over 10, 480. 200,000 acres of paddy cultivation has been destroyed with onion and vegetable cultivation being seriously affected.

Over 200, 000 acres of paddy fields in the north and east have also been inundated by the floods, Agricultural Economist Dr. U Karunagoda of the Department of Agriculture said.  He also said that 7000 hectares of other crops too had been damaged by the floods. All schools in the Eastern, North Central and Central Provinces remained closed.

Reports from the Railway Department stated that rail tracks around the country have gone under water causing the temporary cessation of services, and resulting in a loss of income to the Railway Department.  Railway tracks in Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Manampitiya,  Kandy and Matale were under water Railway sources said.

Meanwhile the Disaster Management Centre has appealed to the public to donate essential items such as food, clothing, infant food and utensils to the centres opened to collect items for flood affected people or to the Kachcheries in the districts.

According to the National Disaster Management Centre, in Batticaloa 482, 323 persons have been affected and two persons had died due to the floods. In the Batticaloa district there are 146 IDP camps set up which provide shelter to 58, 524 persons. 782 houses in the district have been fully damaged while the number of partially damaged houses is 2664.

Polonnaruwa has reported that 6388 persons from 1407 families have been seriously affected and 59 camps have been set up to provide shelter to 11, 011 persons from 2415 families.

The Moneragala District has 12 affected families consisting of 45 individuals, while in the Nuwara Eliya District 34 families have been affected.

In Anuradhapura a total of 1805 families consisting of 6889 individuals have been affected.  There are 6 IDP camps in the district housing 14 families. The number of fully damaged houses in this district stands at 3 and partially damaged houses are 69.

Badulla meanwhile has recorded 191 affected families consisting of 520 persons with one death and injury caused to two persons. Here, there are 2 IDP camps housing 205 persons. The number of houses fully damaged is eight, and partially damaged houses number 183.

The Kegalle District has reported that 18 people have been affected and 7 houses have been partially damaged.

In the district of Kandy 2196 people were affected with 23 persons injured and 8 deaths.

The district has 10 IDP camps providing shelter to 1027 persons while 95 houses have been fully damaged and 316 houses partially damaged.

The Ampara District has reported that 88,376 families consisting of 336,470 individuals, have been affected with injury to 13 people.  Two people have died with one reported missing. There are 49 IDP camps housing 7813 families, as a total of 121 houses have been fully damaged and 1181 partially damaged.

In Tricomalee 27, 940 individuals have been affected and 73 IDP camps provide shelter to 27, 478 persons. In Matale a total of 776 people are affected by the rains and one person has been injured. There are 6 IDP camps providing shelter to 560 persons.

In Ratnapura 208 persons were affected by the rains and 13 houses were fully damaged while 67 houses were partially damaged.

In the district of Kurunegala the situation is said to have normalised according to the National Disaster Management Centre.

Military Spokesperson, Brigadier Ubaya Medawala told the Daily FT that military personnel have been deployed in the Eastern Province and other areas under floods to undertake rescue operations.

The military as of yesterday had carried out air rescue operations as well as rescued 313 persons who were marooned or in danger of being marooned.

46 persons were rescued by SLAF helicopters  in Batticaloa  and a pregnant woman was moved to safety in a Bell 212.

A Sri Lanka Air Force Bell 212 helicopter rescued 46 persons in Batticaloa within the last 48 hours due to the threat posed by the floods in the area.

The chopper carried out three shuttles for the rescue mission where 32 individuals from Tampitiya and 14 from Bogamuyaya were flown to safety from the flood waters which have ravaged the Batticaloa District.

Meanwhile a SLAF Mi-17 carried out a ration drop at Thoppigala yesterday morning, providing relief aid to flood victims. The Bell 212 helicopter transported a pregnant lady from Valaichchenai to Polonnaruwa Hospital.

The epidemiological Unit of the Ministry of Health is continuously monitoring the areas that are flooded for any cases of diarrhea, which is most common during rainy weather. Other common diseases during the occurrence of floods are watery diarrhea, dysentery, enteric fever, viral hepatitis, chickenpox, measles, acute respiratory track infection, conjunctives and skin diseases.

Once the people go out to their fields after the flood waters recede that is also the possibility of their contracting  leptospirosis  (rat fever) as  well.

In the Polonnaruwa district 12 sluice gates of Kaudulla tanks were opened, 10 gates of Parakrama Samudraya and 8 sluice gates of Minneriya were also opened. The Gallelia road is inundated while the Giritale wewa is overflowing.

In Monaragala 6 sluice gates at Weheragala tank were opened and several people were affected owing to trees falling over their houses.

Nuwara Eliya saw an earth slip and fallen trees on the Rikillagaskada –Denipe road.

In the Anuradhapura district, Horowpathana town was inundated and some roads impassable due to the overflowing of the Demata wewa.

The Tikkampatana dam has also breached and two sluice gates of Kalawewa as well as 14 sluice gates of Rajanganaya tank were opened.

In the district of Kandy the Ampitiya – Talatauoya road, Bahirawa kanda  Vihara road, Mahanuwara-Mahiyanganayaroad, Lewella, Buwelikada, Mapanawatura and Dharmasoka Mawatha roads were impassable due to earth slips. 5 houses were inundated  owing to the overflowing of Meda ela.

In Kandy the Kalugala road was impassable, the Matale district saw the Kandenuwara road impassable owing to an earth slip and in Ratnapura district the Konkatuwa wewa was overflowing.

Tea harvest reported from all planting districts

Lanka Commodity Brokers yesterday said a drastic decline in crop harvests has been reported from all Planting Districts following the inclement weather conditions prevailing in the country.

“Heavy rains have curtailed plucking of green leaf and crop intakes are reportedly down by as much as 50% according to plantation sources," it said.

"Additionally, there is an increased incidence of Blister Blight from Uva, Western and Deniyaya districts which are experiencing adverse weather conditions and mist.

The immediate outlook for sustained Tea Production in the first quarter of 2011 is therefore not promising,” Lanka Commodity Brokers added.