The entire nation is recovering from the colossal deluge that unleashed death and mayhem. Restoration takes planning, implementation, resources and evaluation. Moving logistics to areas still submerged in water remains a daunting challenge. Yet it is a task that has to be done. The Disaster Management Centre (DMC) is a hype of activity, with reports coming in and phones buzzing.
Pradeep Kodipilli, in his capacity as Deputy Director of DMC has been busy directing relief efforts. The demanding aspect of these relief missions is that there are many locations that have been severely affected by the floods and landslides. Access to these areas is often hindered with continuous rain. One cannot ignore the risks that lay submerged in the muddy rubble.
As a few rays of sunshine usher in some form of renewed hope, the post relief operations gather momentum. Kodipilli explains that there are 25 DMC field officers involved in this mega mission, coordinating with other agencies like the Ministry of Health, Police and Tri Forces. One of the top priorities over the next few days will be the systematic cleaning up of houses, and other buildings which have been soaked in contaminated water along with floating furniture. Cleaning wells is another important feature which takes time and effort. Special experienced teams are to be mobilized for this.
At present the DMC is overseeing 268 camps, where afflicted citizens are finding some sort of solace. The temporary camps consist of schools, churches and kovils. In some areas the people are housed in tents. After a natural disaster of this magnitude, there is always an imminent threat of epidemics. Controlling and mitigating these water-borne illnesses is another key element of the overall restoration process. The public has been alerted to the impending threat of typhoid, diarrhea and dengue. The latter had claimed many lives even before the flash floods.
For the past few days Chief Epidemiologist of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Paba Palihawadana has personally visited and supervised Medical missions in Kolonawa and Kaduwella, two areas that were severely affected by the rising waters. All MOH offices have been briefed and well trained to identify and treat any such patients. Emphasis is placed on ensuring the sanitation of cooked food and water which are being generously distributed among the stricken.
Keeping flies away is another important duty bestowed on these units, as flies can rapidly spread many forms of diseases. The menace of rodents such as rats represents another undesired element in the sanitation operations. Each MOH region has mobilized teams for inspection and evaluation of such issues. Dr. Palihawadana also pointed out that 10 to 15 teams are on active duty in the Aranayake area, which was the epicentre of the major landslide. Yet another segment receiving special care and attention are the pregnant women, who not only need nutrition but also emotional comfort and assurance.
The Army, Navy and Air Force continue to prove their indomitable prowess as they continue to provide transport and logistics support to the ongoing relief missions. The Police supported by the STF are also involved in maintaining security measures to ensure the safety of civilians and property. It is a combined effort by many departments and NGO agencies rising to meet the urgent needs of a grieving people, who can still smile amidst tears, showing the world that we are a resilient people, who will rise up and move forward.