It has come to a point that people do not take the local Meteorolgy Department seriously at all. When foreign websites warned of cyclonic conditions around the island, the local authorities maintained that there were no threats to Sri Lanka.
Come Thursday (30) morning and the Met Department was proven wrong once again.
This is no joke. By last Thursday, at least four persons were reported killed while 23 persons, including fishermen, were reported missing.
A drive along Galle road on Thursday morning was proof enough as to the damage caused by the heavy winds experienced in many parts of the island.
Time and time again there have been calls to upgrade Sri Lanka’s Meteorology Department. In fact, there were moves to bring down new equipment to improve its forecasting, but nothing seems to have worked so far. Sri Lanka continues to lose lives every time the country is hit by extreme weather.
Both the Met Department and the Disaster Management Centre (DMC) have been criticized in the past for inadequate action to prevent damages caused by natural disasters. The role of the DMC however is to manage the situation once the disaster happens, which makes sense.
But, what we need is a mechanism for disaster preparedness. This is where the need for an early warning system comes in.
Sri Lanka is yet to install an early warning system. A need for such a system was identified way back in 2004 when Sri Lanka was hit by the tsunami.
However, we seem to have not learnt anything from our past mistakes.
We have come to a situation where the entire country waits until we are hit by a disaster, and then act. You cannot prevent disasters, but you can prevent it from causing damages to people and property.
Whether these calls would result in some action is something that we have to wait and see. But Sri Lanka cannot afford to have a laid back approach and wait till disaster strikes.