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   :: Hartley After the Tsunami 
Feb. 2005

I was in Jaffna when the tsunami struck many countries including Sri Lanka. The Jaffna peninsula was hit mainly in the east coastal areas (Point Pedro, Katkovalam, Maruthankeni, Thalayadi) and reported over 1000 deaths and 15,000 homeless. Point Pedro recorded some 40 deaths and destruction of properties. I was told that the second wave rose some 9 meters and flattened the two properties in front of the College before hitting its walls. Methodist High School walls were also flattened. There was about 2 to 3 feet water at Hartley buildings. Stationery and other items on the floor were destroyed but fortunately there were no valuables lost.

The Army did not permit me to take a camera. When I visited the school with Mr Gunaseelan, Vice Principal on 28 December 2004, I saw the following:

  • there were puddles of water in the campus
  • the old staff room and the adjoining hall were damaged even further
  • the waves appear to have brought a lot of rubbish and dumped them in the school
  • there was a terrible unbearable smell
  • one could see the ocean from the school
  • the army was occupying the upstairs class rooms and appeared very upset
  • new class rooms are being built from an NGO funding

    Affected people were being held at schools including Velautham School and Nelliady Central College. I visited the Nelliady School camp that had about 3,000 people. I noted generous support from the Hindu societies, Churches and the general public. All aid works were being carried out by the LTTE.

    I had a lengthy discussion with Mr.Gunaseelan who had arranged cleaning up of the Office and the Computer Laboratory. The eleven personal computers had survived because they were placed on top of the desks. Also, there had been no major damage to the books in the library.

    Mr.Gunaseelan mentioned the following:

  • the books that we shipped were very useful except a few outdated ones
  • he will be retiring in June 2005 and a replacement is yet to be finalised
  • the PPA Point Pedro branch is working very well and supporting the school activities
  • the cricket fixtures and athletic meet may be deferred due to the tsunami
  • school assembly is being held in open air next to the Gymnasium

    After visiting the school I went towards the Point Pedro beach but saw all the boats on the cross streets! The waves also appear to have pushed the coral reefs to the shore. Oodaikarai Appam is still going and one Appam is now Rs 5.

    Vadivelu Sugumar
    Former President
    HCPPA Australia NSW Branch
    Courtesy: Palmyrah Feb. 2005

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