The National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) has warned more atolls could be affected by severe flooding that has damaged property and threatened ground water supplies on 24 inhabited islands across the Maldives over the last few days.
A NDMC spokesperson today told Minivan News that it was still assessing the level and cost of damage caused by heavy rains and strong winds that have slammed parts of the country, identifying ensuring clean water supplies as the most pressing challenge facing authorities at present.
The adverse weather has been linked to low pressure resulting from cyclone Nilam, which had been active in the Bay of Bengal.
However, disaster management officials said that the situation in the country had not changed drastically since yesterday, with no more islands as yet suffering from severe floods. Fears about the spread of diseases resulting from contaminated ground water have also so far proved unfounded, authorities have claimed.
Police and Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officers along with government authorities and local councils are presently continuing efforts to ensure the public are provided with sufficient drinking water and other vital supplies. Authorities are also said to have begun trying to assess the levels of damage from the flooding.
The government has itself announced that MVR 10 million had now been made available from a contingency component in the national budget to provide what it called “immediate relief” to stricken islands in need of supplies such as pillows, blankets, sheets and foods.
President’s Office Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza today said that although the MVR 10 million provided by the Majlis would not be sufficient to cover the total damages sustained from the adverse weather, the funding was expected to ensure vital cleaning supplies and other items could be provided to stricken islands.
“Right now we understand that the [weather] forecast is expected to improve and we anticipate that the MVR10 million is sufficient to provide immediate relief like pillows and bed sheets, which are the main items damaged in flooding,” he said.
Abbas said that authorities were preparing to begin assessing the full extend of the damage from the adverse weather, but added that this process might not be completed for a few weeks.
The Maldives Meteorological Department meanwhile has said that the severe weather patterns resulting from the cyclone – which had now weakened – appeared to have eased to normal rainfall levels experienced in the country during the annual southwest monsoon or “wet season”.
Met Office Spokesperson Ali Shareef told Minivan News that while rainfall was still expected in the country’s central and southern regions, it would not be in the “extraordinary” levels that had fallen earlier in the week. Shareef added that forecasts had predicted that the adverse weather patterns would begin to clear by the end of Friday (November 2).
Of the 24 inhabited islands reported to have been adversely affected by heavy rain this week, Hoarafushi in Haa Alif atoll is deemed by the NDMC to have been most severely affected.
As of yesterday, 95 households were reported to have been flooded, affecting an “estimated 600 people.”
Disaster Management Centre Project Officer Hisan Hassan, present on the island today, said that heavy rains now appeared to have cleared up despite ever present cloud. The MNDF and other authorities had also begun a chlorination process on the island.
Hassan added that supplies of flour and sugar had also been received with “beneficiaries lists” presently being drawn up by authorities before they begin distribution. Flooded homes had also since been cleared of water, while the the island had not appeared to have suffered any significant “structural damages”.
Hassan claimed that due to the flooding, septic tank systems on the island, as well as ground water and wells, had been contaminated.
“It will likely take a few days for water to be drinkable,” he said. “Every house has been provided with two five litre bottles of water to meet demand.”
Hassan added that operations on the island were ultimately returning to “normal” with no severe injuries being reported by health officials.
“The health centre here is also ready in case a situation arises concerning outbreaks of disease,” he added.
Heavy rains that started in the late afternoon on Monday caused flooding of up to five feet, according to police. Thick torrential rains that started around 4:30pm on Monday reportedly lasted non-stop until dawn on Tuesday.
The MNDF Northern Area Command meanwhile launched efforts in collaboration with island councils on Monday to pump water from the affected northern islands, including Haa Alif Baarah and Haa Dhaal Hanimadhoo in addition to Hoarafushi. Hoarafushi, one the of the northernmost islands in the Maldives, has a population of over 2,000 people.