In just two months, Colombia has experienced 215 disasters due to heavy rains across the country, leaving 110 dead and 20,232 recorded households victimized in its wake, with 62,610 turning to relief agencies for support.
The National Unit for Disaster Risk Management (UNGRD) revealed these statistics after conducting a report to analyze the effects of heavy rains in May and June across 173 municipalities in Colombia.
Arauca, Antioquia, Casanare, Choco, Cordoba and Norte de Santander were the six provinces identified as having experienced through this rainy season “different phenomena such as windstorms, floods, landslides, flash floods, hail and electric storms”.
UNGRD reported 110 deaths: 98 in May’s tragedy in the town of Salgar and 12 in disasters across other parts of the country.
In the western Colombian town of Salgar on May 18 in Colombia’s most deadly tragedy for 15 years, 98 were killed in a landslide caused by heavy rains.
The landslide struck in the early hours of the morning as residents slept, rendering any preventative efforts impossible as chaos reigned.
Homes were destroyed and bodies were carried downriver, later found up to 62 miles away from the initial site.
President Juan Manuel Santos flew to oversee relief efforts, announcing construction plans to replace every one of the destroyed homes. However, the Colombian president has made similar promises that still today remain unfulfilled.
Residents of Gramalote in the province of Norte de Santander now five years after tragedy hit the municipality today still sleep in temporary shelters after promises from Santos of the rebuild of 1,200 homes, each with a computer and free internet. A fact the president publicly acknowledged this January admitting it “keeps me awake.”
According to UNGRD director Carlos Ivan Marquez, relief entities such as the Red Cross, Civil Defense, Fire Brigade, Military Forces and National Police have in this period reportedly spent almost $3 million treating over 60,000 individuals. These efforts include reconstruction, search and rescue, and the provision of emergency kits and temporary housing subsidies.
The UNGRD has identified ten provinces in Colombia they declare to be on high alert, urging those in danger zones to stay up-to-date with alerts issued by the Institute of Hydrology, Meteology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM). IDEAM have themselves issued alerts for regions surrounded the rivers of Meta, Guaviare and Inirida.
On June 26 IDEAM released warnings that the Bogota River had shown significant increases due to heavy rainfall, and reported flooding in nearby areas with reports that the situation was furthermore expected to worsen demanding “special attention.”
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