When it started raining | Sunday Observer

When it started raining

4 June, 2017

A brown canine one of many tethered to posts of the practice cricket nets at Rahula College kept on howling as it may have been worried and scared at being tied up in an alien place with lots of strangers  and activity around. The dog’s owners were having their midday meal in a class room nearby. This is the scenario which caught my eye when  I visited the welfare camp established at Rahula College Matara last Wednesday (31st). The camp housed 1886 persons who had to leave their homes due to the rising flood waters.“When it started raining on the night of 25th May 2017 I never dreamt that we would be flooded out” said Sunil a resident of Hiththetiya who has been at the Rahula College welfare center with his family and relatives for the past four days. “The last time we had to leave our homes due to floods was in 2003” he added, The hardship they had to endure more than a decade ago was almost forgotten as more than ten rainy seasons had passed normally since then. Sunil, his family and relations a group of almost 30 persons shared a single class room on the ground floor of a three storied building at Rahula College. They slept on mats laid on the ground and on top of desks and school benches. Clothes lines were strung all over the place. 

 “Our house has been submerged and I hear that the water level was over 8 feet. I do not know what we have lost. We came here with only a few clothes as we were not aware that it had rained so heavily in Deniyaya area or we could have moved our belonging to higher ground. We are expecting the worst and it seems that we will have to start life all over again” he added with a sigh. The government had provided all 1886 with cooked meals for the past four days. Many other people and organizations had also brought cooked meals to the camp. At times there were excess parcels of food at the camp and hundreds of food parcels had to be dumped in the many bins placed around the school premises and at times the food had not been brought in time and was rancid.

When I visited the camp last Wednesday(31st) the bins were full of unopened lunch packets and there were about another 500 which had not been collected. Someone had distributed parcels of fried rice and the people specially the children had preferred the fried rice to the meal of rice, soya and dhal provided by the government agent. “Of the 10670 persons who are at welfare camps at the moment 10040 are at 15 welfare centers in the Matara divisional secretaries area” said Pradeep Rathnayaka District Secretary Matara who visited all the welfare centers to see for himself how things were being managed. When asked about the food going rancid he said “I and my staff taste randomly selected meals which are being distributed and it is the food that is being distributed by outsiders that is found to be rancid.

We have assigned public health inspectors to all the welfare centers to make sure that whatever food items that are being distributed is fit for human consumption and not outdated”.   He also said that the Sri Lanka Army had undertaken to prepare the meals at all major welfare centers itself from that very night so there won’t be a problem regarding cooked meals and meals going stale in the future.“If the rain ceases these people should be able to return to their homes within a few days as we have cut the irrigation bund at Piladuwa to let the flood waters flow back into the Nilwala” he added.