Peru is currently facing a serious crisis as the South American country deals with its worst floods in decades. Since December, floods in Peru have claimed the lives of over 80 people and over 100,000 Peruvians have been displaced from their homes, according to Reuters. Many of those most heavily impacted by the floods are poor residents who have built their homes on affordable land near rivers and ravines.
“I used to have my business here, but the river swept it away,” said Veronica Ventura, a 33-year-old single mother who ran a business selling bottles of soda from her home outside Peru’s capital city, Lima.
People have lost their lives and homes as a direct result of the floods in Peru and the country’s water supply has been impacted due to water treatment plants being clogged as a result of mudslides.
According to Euronews, the torrential rains that have soaked almost the entire northern half of Peru since December are a result of the El Niño weather phenomenon, where extremely warm water in the Pacific ocean contributes to greater amounts of rain on the surrounding land. Countless people have lost their homes to the floods. Experts have warned the rains will most likely continue, at least until the middle of April.
“I don’t have water, I don’t have light. It’s a whole situation I am going through. I am 80 years old,” said one devastated resident on the outskirts of Lima.
Residents of Peru are facing shortages of food, water, medicine, and other essential items as a result of the floods. According to Accuweather, over 400 hospitals in the country are reporting severe damage due to flooding, impacting their ability to treat injured people. Significant damage to many roads and railways are also limiting the ability for aid and supplies to reach areas most severely impacted by the floods. Many of these areas are without power or any ability to communicate with the outside world, making an accurate assessment of the damage and an accurate death and injury toll virtually impossible.
“Piura, along the northern coast of Peru, has been inundated with 631 mm (nearly 25 inches) of rain since the start of the year,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Jim Andrews said. “Piura averages less than 75 mm (3 inches) each year.”
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According to the Guardian, Peru’s president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, addressed the floods in a broadcast last Friday.
“We are confronting a serious climatic problem,” Kuczynski said. “There hasn’t been an incident of this strength along the coast of Peru since 1998.”
Opposition party leaders are criticizing the government’s lack of preparedness for such events.
“We know the ‘coastal El Niño’ comes from time to time,” said the leader of the New Peru movement, Verónika Mendoza. “We know we are a country that is extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change. We should have prepared ourselves better.”
Some scientists are attributing the floods to climate change. A spokesman for the ministry of environment in Peru said it is premature to make that determination, though studies are being done in that area.
“It is a duty of our government and society to work in order to reduce the risk of vulnerability,” said Dimitri Gutiérrez. “Part of this work should be investing more for urban and territorial use planning.”
Concerned people all over the world are asking how they can help the people of Peru who have been devastated by the floods. The Peruvian Red Cross is currently taking donations to assist in relief efforts on the ground, and other charities within Peru are accepting donations of items and money to help people impacted by the worst floods to hit Peru in many decades.
[Featured Image by Martin Mejia/AP Images]