More than 27 departments have been affected by the new rainy season, which has killed 29 people and left more than 20,000 families homeless.
According to Jorge Londoño, the director of Colombia Humanitaria, the special agency created by the presidency to handle rainy seasons, the 20,000 homeless families represents about a third of the families affected by the previous rainy season of 2010.
“The rainy season has been aggressive, but we are not suffering the damage of last year, we have a third of the people who were affected by the same time last year, which is sufficiently serious,” Londoño said.
The humanitarian director explained that the government has already designated $4.7 million in aid to the disaster. He added that the government was planning on providing another $7.4 million soon.
Authorities say the heavy rain and flooding could last until March 2012. According to reports, the rainfall this year has almost matched the levels of all of 2010.
The mayor of Cartagena has asked for assistance from the national government as major roadways into the city were destroyed and more than 10,000 houses were affected by floods.
Especially at risk is the El Pozon area, where 50,000 residents are threatened by water flowing from a dam in the neighboring municipality of Turbaco.
“This is an emergency that has never happened in El Pozon, although it has been through many difficult situations,” Cartagena Mayor Judith Pinedo lamented.
The floods have already claimed the life of a teen in Cartagena. A 19-year-old girl was with her friends by a river in El Pizon when strong currents dragged her away. The mayor has called on parents to caution to their children during the dangerous season.
Heavy rains have destroyed three sections of a key road between Cartagena and Barranquilla. According to authorities, the road will remain closed until Monday, October 24.
Cartagena threatens to be cut off from the rest of Colombia if the flooding and damages persist.
According to the Ricardo Lozano, the director of Colombia’s national meteorology institute (Ideam), Antioquia has been hit particularly hard by the rainy season.
The northwestern department issued an orange alert Tuesday due to sharply increasing rains, the director of the Administrative Department of the System of Prevention, Care, and Recovery from Disasters (Dapard) explained.
“We have a potential risk of flooding of coastal towns near the Cauca, Magdalena and the Atrado rivers. This creates an orange alert taking into account that the flows are increasing gradually,” said the Dapard director.
Floods in Antioquia have left 1,500 people homeless, RCN Radio reported.
The department remains threatened by the Cauca river, which rose one and a half feet in less than 24 hours. As of Tuesday, the town of La Virginia is on red alert, El Colombiano reported Tuesday.
According to Caracol Radio, nine municipalities in the southwest Huila department have been seriously affected by the heavy rains. The floods have damaged crops, roads, and houses. The towns of Guadalupe, Nataga, Tello, and Santa Maria have already begun to receive aid from the government.
Authorities warn that almost all of the department is at high risk, with the exception of the eastern region.
More than 10,000 people have been affected in seven municipalities in the northwestern coastal department. The towns of Alto Baudo, Medio Baudo, Riosucio, Medio Atrato, and Carmen de Atrato have been warned of a potential increase in rainfall.