Relief Workers Wait Anxiously While Death Toll Climbs in Sri Lanka Flooding
May 30, 2017
Flooding and a series of landslides triggered by heavy monsoon rains have killed 196 people living in the southwestern region of Sri Lanka. The death toll is estimated to climb.
The Disaster Management Center (DMC) of Sri Lanka reports 63 people are injured, while another 93 are missing. More than 600,000 people have been affected, making this the worst flooding to hit the island since 2003.
Already around 84,000 people have been rescued and placed in displacement camps located throughout the regions.
A GFA-supported worker, Vidu, reports that "nobody can think of anything else other than going to safe places."
One church led by a GFA-supported pastor is under threat, "but they are safe as the water level has not risen," he says. At another location, three feet of water has entered a church.
"Some of the believers' homes are submerged in floods, and evacuation has been done by navy boats," he says. "Three believers' families are stranded and waiting to be evacuated to higher ground."
The house and church of another GFA-supported pastor, who is ministering in one of the 14 affected districts of Sri Lanka, is submerged, but he and his family remain safe as the water level begins to recede.
Currently, only the DMC, armed forces, police and media units are allowed to visit and provide relief to the affected areas because of the dangerous currents in the floodwaters and the heavy winds.
"We can only pray and wait till we can travel to these areas," Vidu says. "The immediate need will be to supply cooked meals and drinking water to the affected families. We can only do this when clearance is received to visit areas."j
Once the water recedes, the long-term plan is to mobilize GFA-supported Compassion Services teams to clean and wash houses, clean wells and provide drinking water until water sources are safe to use.
Prayer requests from the field:
- Please pray the rains will recede and the rescue teams will be able to reach the affected areas soon.
- Pray God will protect all the pastors, missionaries and believers who are affected by the flood situation.
- Pray God will enable Compassion Services teams to be prepared with relief items and equipment in order to go to the villages as soon as it’s declared safe to travel.
- Pray for all the government institutions, village heads, armed forces and police members who are risking their lives to save innocent lives, and pray God will protect them.
- Pray God will protect the lives of all people and grant strength and comfort to those who lost their family members and houses because of this disaster.
- Pray also for the officers who are handling the relief aid process, that they will make sure to send the given aid, especially from India (two ship loads), to the innocent people who are affected as soon as possible.
- Pray God will protect the remaining submerged houses as the owners have gone to shelters. Some thieves have tried to break in to houses to steal belongings. Right now, police members and navy boats have been deployed to check the security of the area.
- Pray rains will cease in the central zone as the main reservoirs are reaching the hazardous overflow level. This will cause great damage to the existing situation if gates are opened and huge water amounts are released into already flooded rivers.
Backpacks Help Children Continue Their Schooling
June 28, 2016
Gospel for Asia-supported workers continue to help Sri Lanka's flood victims by providing cooked meals and dry food packets, as well as school materials for their children. Floodwaters destroyed many homes and household belongings, creating a variety of needs for flood victims.
On June 8, Gospel for Asia-supported workers distributed schoolbags to 92 children who lost their school items in the flood. The schoolbags contained a water bottle, a lunch box, pencils, pens, schoolbooks, erasers, a ruler and a pencil sharpener. The children also received a pair of shoes with their school supplies.
"Earlier, I was so worried about my education and necessary things," one child shared. "But now I am happy to receive this schoolbag with all the [supplies] for my studies."
Our field correspondent wrote, "This helped the people in the surrounding area to restart their children's schooling without any problem. The team could see the [beaming] faces of the children once they got the schoolbags, and that showed the hope of tomorrow in their lives."
Families in five areas of Sri Lanka received dry ration food packets, and those who were unequipped to cook any food were given prepared meals.
Teams of Gospel for Asia-supported workers continue to bring relief to families who have been affected by flooding and are helping clean up from the destructive floodwaters.
Please Pray For:
- Gospel for Asia-supported workers will have more opportunities to meet the practical needs of flood victims.
- God will enable families to rebuild homes and find employment.
- Children affected by flooding will be able to return to school and continue their education.
Rain Resumes, Floods Rise While Illness Spreads
June 9, 2016
Heavy rainfall resumed on May 28, inundating Sri Lanka after a short respite from rain allowed floodwaters to partially recede. Water levels are on the rise again, submerging roads, homes and crops and forcing more families into relief camps. Many areas already have 2 feet of water that are destroying property and livelihoods. Waterborne illnesses are spreading and causing additional misery for flood victims.
Teams Continue Bringing Relief
On May 31, Gospel for Asia-supported Compassion Services teams provided 75 food packets containing several staple food items to flood-affected families and are serving meals for people in relief camps.
Gospel for Asia-supported pastor Havish also received aid during a distribution event. Relief teams provided mattresses, kitchen items and other practical items to his family. Like many other families in his area, Pastor Havish was forced to evacuate and lost all his household items in the flood.
Compassion Services teams are also responding to a request to provide more school supplies for local children. Plans to clean wells in one area were postponed due to rain bringing 3-foot floods. Traveling to affected areas is difficult, but teams are bringing aid at every opportunity.
Pastor Affected by Contaminated Water, Still Serves His Community
Pastor Rehan, another Gospel for Asia-supported pastor who has been affected by flooding, is suffering from sores and itching on his hands and legs due to the polluted water in his area. Floodwaters often breed disease and spread waterborne illnesses to people wading through contaminated water.
When Pastor Rehan's home was flooded, he lost all his household items, including his hearing aid. Items such as mattresses, pots, bedding and dishes have been given to Pastor Rehan, but he is suffering from severe headaches and problems with his hearing.
Despite his personal loss and discomfort, Pastor Rehan is thinking of others in need around him and will be involved in distributing more relief items in his community.
Please Pray For:
- Pastor Rehan and many others suffering from waterborne illnesses will experience healing.
- God will send relief to Sri Lanka and cause floodwaters to recede quickly.
- Transportation will improve, enabling government workers and Gospel for Asia-supported workers to bring aid to more affected areas.
- Compassion Services teams will be able to host medical camps and clean wells as soon as flooding subsides.
June 2, 2016
Water Levels Recede, Relief Work Continues
Floodwaters are receding in some areas of Sri Lanka, allowing families to return to what is left of their homes and household items. However, many evacuees are still stranded in relief camps and are unable to return home until the flooding subsides.
Thousands Helped Through Relief Teams
Gospel for Asia-supported Compassion Services teams are helping clean up the silt left within homes along with cleaning wells floodwaters have polluted.
Teams are also working to meet families' immediate needs by distributing food packets. In one area, relief teams distributed 2,790 food packets from May 17 to 22. Another 250 packets were given out on May 26, along with 58 schoolbags containing school supplies for flood-affected children.
"I was very worried when my books were washed away," one child shared. "But today I am very happy that I have a new schoolbag, and I can attend school happily."
One parent who attend the distribution event said, "Thank you for feeding us for five days and today giving me three schoolbags for my children and the dry ration packet. Thank you so much for your great love and help."
Pastor Loses Everything in Flood
Gospel for Asia-supported Pastor Rehan distributed relief items in his community until he was forced to flee to a relief camp. He and his wife jumped into a boat from their balcony to escape the severe flooding in their home. When they were able to return, they found their belongings ruined and their well unusable. Their furniture, kitchen items, mattress, bedding and electronic items were destroyed by the muddy water that filled their house.
He and his wife now must start over, along with many families in similar situations.
Compassion Services team members helped Pastor Rehan and his wife clean their home and well for two days. They also cleaned the place of worship where Pastor Rehan leads his congregation.
The teams will continue helping clean homes and wells in many communities during the coming weeks. Rainfall still lingers over parts of Sri Lanka, and the threat of more landslides looms overhead—another recent landslide has affected 26 families. Government workers are clearing debris from roadways and assisting with the large amount of cleanup needed in many areas impacted by flooding and landslides.
Please Pray For:
- Gospel for Asia-supported workers will have strength and protection from injury or illness as they clean homes and polluted wells in many communities.
- Families will have access to food and safe drinking water.
- Flooded areas will have favorable weather conditions.
- Families that lost everything in the flood will be able to rebuild their lives and provide for their children.
May 27, 2016
Torrential Rains Cause Flooding and Landslides, Hundreds of Thousands Affected
Since May 15, Sri Lanka's heavy rains have displaced more than 350,000 families. Reservoirs and rivers have overflowed, sending water throughout five districts near Colombo, Sri Lanka's capital. Floodwaters measuring three to seven feet deep submerged many areas, destroying homes and causing mudslides. Rescue workers are searching for survivors among collapsed structures and buried homes and are seeking to provide aid for thousands taking shelter in relief camps.
The death toll continues to rise as rescue teams search for survivors. Reports state up to 92 people have died so far from flooding or landslides, and 109 people are still missing. Transportation is limited, and affected schools are closed until further notice.
Relief Work Complicated by Floodwaters
Gospel for Asia-supported Compassion Services teams are reaching out to affected areas with food and shelter. They have provided 5,000 food packets or meals to victims so far. Many roads have been unpassable due to flooding, which has complicated relief work. Where relief teams managed to cross floodwaters, they distributed items such as rice, dal, sugar, flour, canned meat and other staple cooking ingredients, as well as matches and candles.
Around 350 families within congregations led by Gospel for Asia-supported pastors have been affected. The majority of families lost their furniture, refrigerators and electrical items in the sudden flooding. One Gospel for Asia-supported Bridge of Hope center is also flooded. Arrangements are in place to provide meals for believers as well as for others in the community.
Gospel for Asia-supported Relief Teams Minister to Victims
At the first sign of flooding, Gospel for Asia-supported pastor Rehan mobilized a team to begin providing dry food rations and shelter to families impacted by floodwaters in his area. The church building that houses the congregation led by Pastor Rehan was the center of distribution on May 17, until rising waters forced relief teams to relocate to higher ground. The building was soon under several feet of water.
"After we distributed dry rations inside the church," Pastor Rehan shared, "within a few hours, the water level increased, and the church was under water, almost to six feet. Now we are in the [relief] camp, and the camp too is under water."
All Pastor Rehan's belongings were washed away or destroyed. The flooding in his area has gone down, but three feet of water still remain in the church building.
Pastor Havish, another Gospel for Asia-supported pastor, evacuated his home with his wife as floodwaters filled the area.
"I have faced this experience for the first time, when water came 3.5 feet straight inside the house," Pastor Havish recounted. "All the household belongings were under water."
Gospel for Asia-supported Compassion Services teams plan to continue providing relief as flooding recedes and roads open up. Water levels have lowered and many people are returning to what is left of their homes and livelihoods. Rations of dry food items will be distributed, and teams will help clean homes and wells. Arrangements are also in process for holding medical camps in affected areas.
Please Pray For:
- God will protect rescue workers and flood victims.
- Floodwaters will recede so aid can arrive in needed areas.
- Government leaders and response teams will have wisdom in handling the situation.
- Gospel for Asia-supported teams will be able to provide relief to thousands more flood victims.
Read previous reports about flooding in Sr Lanka and how Gospel for Asia workers have been bringing the love of Jesus to flood victims.