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05/26/2016

Tropical Cyclone Roanu hits Sri Lanka

Between 14-16 May 2016, Sri Lanka was it by a major Tropical Cyclone Roanu.  Roanu brought unprecedented amount of rain to many parts of Sri Lanka, causing landslides and floods in the central and eastern part of Sri Lanka. From the disaster, 92 people were confirmed dead and 132 people were missing, with the number expected to rise. 

Out of all districts, Colombo and Gampaha districts were particularly heavily affected by the flood due to the overflowing of Kelani River and other canals. In both Colombo and Gampaha, more than 300,000 people were displaced at the peak. The number of displaced people is decreasing as the water recedes and people return to their homes.

In order to understand the situation better, JEN conducted a 2-day rapid needs assessment in Gampaha and Colombo, visiting heavily affected areas and shelters where people are still displaced.  Even after a week since the rain had stopped, many affected areas were still under few feet of water with some areas only accessible by boat. 

In Kolonnawa division where we visited, people were still stranded on the roof and the community had arranged a daily delivery of food, water and medicine by boat. 

During the needs assessment, it became clear that one of the major risks of flooding is the hygiene-related and health risks that the water brings. 
In many areas, the water had mixed with the dirty black water, which created a major health hazard to those who were displaced and are returning to the area. People had expressed that they are getting skin rashes or diarrhea having gone into water to access their homes. 
In order to prevent prolonging health risks after the water has receded, personal hygiene items such as soap and washing powder, as well as cleaning items like disinfectants are greatly needed.

[Flood-affected area in Kelaniya, Gampaha] 
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[Much water remains in Wattala, Gampaha]
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Though the situation is dire, we also witnessed the strength of local government and local communities to come together to provide assistance to those who are in need.  In all of the areas we visited, the local government and community reacted quickly to provide immediate assistance of food, water and temporary shelter. 

In areas where the local government had not reached, the communities were arranging their own relief activities. Now they are in the second phase where most people are returning to their homes. 

For low-income families who have lost almost everything, assistance is needed to help them resettle back into their normal lives.
          
[Community delivering water, food and medicine]
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[Half-submerged house in Kaduwella, Colombo]
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[This place is usually a road]
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[Temporary shelter set up by the government]
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May 26, 2016 in Sri Lanka |