Ground troops of the Army under the Security Forces Headquarters, Wanni, (SFHQ-W) taking full cognizance of the devastation caused by ravaging floods in Anuradhapura, Vavuniya and Mannar districts, have been able to repair and restore 329 tank bunds in the Anuradhapura district alone by Friday (11) morning with the support of respective civil authorities.
Of them, more than 27 tank bunds with widths of about 20-50 meters, were completely destroyed in some instances while 302 more bunds were partially damaged, prompting them to burst at any given moment. For this task, nearly 7000 Army troops swiftly jumped into action and actively assisted to mitigate the impact of the destruction. In addition, another contingent of troops attended to the immediate remedial improvements, needed for Nachchiyaduwa Wewa, Eru Wewa, Kuda Kalattewa Wewa, Maha Kalattewa Wewa, Hurulu Wewa, Sangilikandarawa Wewa (Anuradhapura district), Vediwaittukallu Tank, Sinhapura Tank, Tannikallu Tank (Vavuniya district), Giant’s Tank, Kathimurrippukulam Tank, Adaththaveli Tank and Pompanshanthakulam Tank (Mannar district) as water levels were fast rising in the past few days.
Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya, Commander of the Army in direct contact with the SFHQ-W has instructed all field commanders in this regard as the situation grew worse since early this week.
In a dramatic move, early this week more than 500 Army troops rushed to avert an imminent major catastrophe when they timely managed to pierce a selected side of the Eru Wewa bund and stalled further spilling of flood water into Nachchiduwa Tank since its bund was also by then facing a threat of bursting at any moment of the day as torrential rains continued.
Meanwhile, Army troops in the Anuradhapura district, with the support of Navy and Air Force rescued a total of 63 stranded civilians including 2 pregnant women and 15 children during February 3-10 period from Mahagolle Wewa, Bogoda, Ratmale, Horowpothana, Kahatagasdigiliya, Tikkampathana, Yanoya, Walahavidda Wewa, Thiththagona Wewa, Padaviya, Jayagama and a few other worst-affected areas.
Similarly, 83 more marooned civilians in Madukarai, Kunchikulam and Pandividdavan areas in the Mannar district were salvaged in the past week and housed elsewhere.
Simultaneously, the challenge of provision of cooked meals as well as dry rations, in liaison with District and Divisional Secretaries, Grama Seva officials was also being sustained by the troops in Ramba Wewa, Dekathipothana, Nabodawewa, Wahalkada, Walahagahapu Wewa, Rathmalgaha Wewa and a few other areas in the Welioya sector. Naval troops also facilitated transport of dry rations to the victims in Musali division, Mannar.
Meanwhile, thousands of cooked meal packets and dry ration packets were distributed in Anuradhapura, Vavuniya and Mannar districts in the past 7 days after respective Grama Seva divisions identified the victims and most affected areas. The Army continues to provide those supplies as of Friday (11) morning.
To face any threat of outbreak of epidemics in temporary shelters, medical teams of the Sri Lanka Army Medical Corps (SLAMC) were dispatched to places where large concentrations of displaced victims remained housed after evacuation. Similarly, several mobile medical clinics were conducted for the victims, some of who needed close medical attention after badly affected in the gushing waters and inclement weather.
Ten such clinics in Vavuniya, 2 in Kahatagasdigiliya and Horowpothana and 2 more clinics in Mannar district have treated more than 2500 patients in the past one week. The SFHQ-W utilized the services of 7 civil medical officers, attached to Vavuniya and Anuradhapura hospitals for this service with the support of health authorities.
As water levels were receding in some areas, Army troops, led by Sri Lanka Engineer Service Regiment in coordination with officials from the Ministry of Highways and local authorities, have already commenced repairs to the damaged infrastructure in Rambewa, Welioya Junction, Kiriwarankulam, Wahalkada, Habagama, Parangiyawadiya, Kahatagasdigiliya, Rathmalegas Wewa, Konwewa and along Palampiddi-Periyamadu Road, Janakapura-Mullaittivu Road, Kahatagollewa-Padaviya Road, Sinhapura-Nelumwewa Road, Anandakulam-Madhu Road, Bogashandiya-Pulmodai Road, Horowpothana-Anuradhapura Road and several other areas.
Meanwhile, overflowing of Malwathuoya from the bund-end towards Mannar, compelled the troops to keep off the Main Supply Route (MSR) to Mannar as the water levels were rising as high as some 11 ft. However, troops maintained two alternative MSRs to Mannar across Parayanakulam and Madhu and sustained supplies uninterrupted.
Ministers Basil Rajapaksa early this week, in the company of government officials, visited Horowpothana, Wahalkada, Padaviya areas and discussed emergency relief measures with the Army and other authorities. Minister Rishard Badurdeen, accompanied by SFHQ-W Commander meanwhile visited affected areas in Mannar in order to receive an assessment of the situation.