Authorities in Santa Marta, a city on the northern coast of Colombia, declared a state of emergency, after recent heavy rainfall threatens to cause flooding.
Clopad, the local disaster prevention committee for Santa Marta, sounded the red alert Wednesday after a rise in the water level in the rivers descending from the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The committee also warned that there was an imminent risk of collapsing for 60 houses on the banks of the Manzanares river, which runs from the east to the west of the city.
“We advise the families which will be visited by Clopad to voluntarily evacuate their buildings during the ‘winter wave,’ in order to avoid any tragedy whatsoever in the Manzanares river sector,” Juan Pablo Dias Granados Pinedo, mayor of Santa Marta and president of Clopad, told El Tiempo.
According to the newspaper, the neighborhoods Villa del Carmen, Las Malvinas, La Estrella, Simon Bolivar and the areas near the El Mayor bridge are especially vulnerable.
The mayor added that the municipality would offer financial support to families who need to move, in case they do not have other places where they can stay with family. Alternatively, the municipality would set up an accommodation center in the former transport terminal at the intersection of calle 24 and carrera 8.
But Major Eduardo Velez, sectional director for civil defense, stressed that people living in buildings that were on the point of collapsing should not wait for state support to arrive and should immediately find somewhere else to live.
This year’s torrential downpours have hit the Andean nation particularly hard. Colombia’s rainy season death toll has risen to 60, while 74,000 families and more than 300,000 people have been affected by adverse weather condition in 27 departments around the country.
Colombia is undergoing a climactic phenomenon known as “La Niña,” which which is causing rains, flooding and landslides around the South American state.