Updated: June 07, 2021 10:13 AM GMT
Father Jayantha Nimal helps to distribute food packets despite flooded roads. (Photo: Facebook)
The Sri Lankan Church has joined relief efforts to help hundreds of people affected by floods and landslides that have so far left at least 16 people dead and three missing.
Families have been affected in 10 districts and many have been evacuated to 104 safety shelters.
The National Building Research Organization has issued a landslide warning for several districts and has requested people living in high-risk areas to move to safer areas.
A family of four died when a heavy mound of earth crashed into their house.
Many parish priests prepared meals for flood and landslide victims in accordance with health rules and regulations due to the Covid-19 situation.
Father Jayantha Nimal, parish priest of St. Nicholas Church in Bopitiya, has visited victims' houses amid torrential rain and the threat of more floods.
People are so helpless that Covid-19 is on one side and now a flood is on the other
The priest went from house to house with helpers to distribute more than 2,000 food packets every day.
"Every house has a water level of two or three feet. I opened the church gates and asked those in need to come to the church if they want," Father Nimal told UCA News.
"People are so helpless that Covid-19 is on one side and now a flood is on the other. They have become very helpless with their children.
"Many flood victims have been given food parcels and dry rations for five days. It has cost around 2 million rupees [US$10,140)."
Due to the spread of Coovid-19, strict travel restrictions have been imposed in Sri Lanka for more than 15 days.
The country has reported an average of 40 Covid-related deaths and 3,000 positive cases per day over the past week.
Father Nimal said the local Church, environmentalists, some politicians and villagers had urged the government to stop attempts to fill up and build projects in the Muthurajawela sanctuary, the country's largest coastal wetland
"The Church opposed the huge constructions in the Muthurajawela natural wetland thinking of these innocent people and the environment," he said.
"Through these massive development projects, the method of absorbing water into the ground systems has been destroyed."
We distributed food items to all religious and ethnic people
The Disaster Management Center said the extreme weather has affected 270,012 people and more than 800 houses have been damaged.
Father Anton Ranjith, parish priest of Our Lady of Assumption Church in Hanwella, distributed dry ration packets them among flood victims in his parish.
Nimal Suresh, a Catholic from St. Cajetan's Church in Kotugoda in the Archdiocese of Colombo, said Catholic nuns and parishioners together gave dry rations and meals to flood victims.
"We distributed food items to all religious and ethnic people," said Suresh.