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Adventists in Sri Lanka among survivors of recent widespread flooding

In spite of wide-spread devastation, Adventists assist in disaster response

Recent heavy rains have caused landslides and extensive flooding in Sri Lanka with Adventists among those affected in 15 of the country’s 25 districts. Almost 180 people have died and more than 100 are missing in what officials consider the worst flooding in more than a decade. The central and southern areas are hardest-hit with over 100,000 people displaced and a half million affected.

Majintha Gunatilake, Sri Lanka Mission (SLM) communication director, reports that “around 300 Adventists (70 families) are affected in the Matara District which is 133 km south of the capital of Colombo. Some of the affected districts are not this far.” To date, there are no reports of damage to or loss of Adventist churches.

“We are trying to help them for their immediate needs. SLM is also finding ways to extend our support further,” comments SLM President George P. Wambeck.

“Local church pastors and members work hand in-hand to help the people in affected areas,” adds Gunatilake. “Local pastors, members and a Global Mission worker have committed to help the families who are in desperate situations.” He notes that “the wells of that area are also…flooded and they want to clear those wells by pumping out the dirty water that has flooded the wells.” It is not yet clear how local officials will do this but Adventists are ready to help as needed.

Several Adventist organizations are preparing to help with ongoing and future needs. ADRA-SLM will soon be in the areas most affected while several SLM schools plan to assist in the Matara District in the south.

Buildings and property submerged by the flooding in central and southern Sri Lanka following the monsoon rains believed to be the worst in more than a decade. [photo from ADRA Sri Lanka facebook]

People stranded in flooded areas of central and southern Sri Lanka as waters rose caused by monsoons rains in Sri Lanka. [photo from ADRA Sri Lanka facebook]

Since May is the start of monsoon season, more flooding is likely as the season progresses. This brings a concern for survivors developing dengue fever, a potentially life-threatening disease common in tropical areas. Surges in cases often develop after flooding as the stagnant water provide ample areas for mosquito to breed. Thus, Adventist medical groups may be among those treating survivors as needed.

SLM is home to 3,042 Adventists in 37 churches among the predominantly Buddhist country’s 21,000,000 citizens. SLM is one of fourteen countries in the Southern Asia-Pacific Division.

[Teresa Costello]

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