Red Cross volunteers help flood-hit Sri Lanka
Disaster response team from S'pore has distributed relief packs, including sleeping mats, cutlery and bedsheets to 40,000 people
When the floods hit Sri Lanka last month, 212 people were killed and 717,600 affected, with 80 listed as missing.
Mr Karunanithi Letchumanan, who has been a Singapore Red Cross (SRC) volunteer for five years, was one of two people in a disaster response team sent there on May 31.
According to an update from the Disaster Management Centre of Sri Lanka that was released on June 4, more than 2,300 houses were destroyed and around 12,500 houses were damaged.
The SRC team was sent to distribute relief packs, including sleeping mats, cutlery and bedsheets to 40,000 people.
Mr Karunanithi said: "I felt overwhelmed because there were many problems that came about after the flood - well water getting contaminated, landslides with giant boulders and soil blocking canals."
Ms Chia Swee Kim, 64, an SRC senior executive, who travelled with him, said: "For every overseas deployment, we have to expect the unexpected because no two situations are the same."
The SRC team was sent to the capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo, and major cities like Galle, Kalutara and Gampaha, which were among the 15 districts affected by the worst floods and landslides in more than 10 years.
SRC has contributed US$50,000 (S$69,200) in relief supplies and the Singapore government has donated US$100,000 to launch SRC's fund raising appeal.
Mr Karunanithi said a man in his 20s thanked them for the work they did.
For every overseas deployment, we have to expect the unexpected because no two situations are the same.SRC senior executive Ms Chia
He added: "We then asked him if he needed our help, but he said he just wanted us to help his village of 50 families. He was worried that because he was in a minority group, they would be overlooked.
"I told him that we don't look at that kind of thing and we would help everyone."
Ms Chia said travelling by boat, they found water was over eight metres high in some places and houses were completely submerged.
"We are very concerned about the communities living in these hazardous areas - they will need support from the Sri Lanka Red Cross in the coming days and weeks."
Ms Charis Chan, SRC's head of international services, said the rain had stopped in some areas but may start again.
From now till June 29, SRC is accepting donations on giving.sg to support the humanitarian aid in Sri Lanka.