Relief Efforts Continue as Columbia Flood Victims Remain Precarious

Flooding caused by last month’s heavy rains has left 40 people dead, 90 injured, 45 missing and 30,000 others affected, sources reported Tuesday. The tragic event has caused landslides, blocked roads and damages to at least 5,000 homes in Bucaramanga, Girón and Piedecuesta—places where the Lutheran Church of Colombia carries out its mission and development projects.

On Feb. 8, heavy rains that lasted 17 hours, had led to the flooding and consequently to the overflowing of the Oro and Frío Rivers in Colombia. According to a rescue team in the city of Santander, it has been reported that 15 neighborhoods in Bucaramanga and 50 in Girón suffered severe damages due to the flooding. Girón is the city that has been the most affected.

Besides Girón, another place that suffered severe damages because of the flooding is Convivir—where a total of 212 families suffered the impact of flooding, as reported by the global alliance Action by Churches Together (ACT).

“They lost their houses and all their belongings,” ACT reported.

Brisas del Prado, a place where the Lutheran Church of Bucaramanga is present, was also severely affected as raging waters destroyed bridges leaving 32 families totally isolated.

“The weather forecast predicts more rain and this is causing people who are already affected by the flooding, to be in a precarious situation,” ACT reported.

Thousands of people have fled their homes because of the flooding.

According to ACT, the heavy rain has affected six departments on the east and north sides of the national territory. In northern Santander, for example, hundreds of homes were flooded. Meanwhile, the flooding and overflowing of the Táchira and Pamplonita rivers left at least 11,000 victims and 20,000 isolated from both the Venezuela and Colombia’s borders.

ACT reports that the Mission and Development Department of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia (IELCO) will conduct distributions, ensuring that the most vulnerable families receive relief assistance such as food parcels, beds and blankets. It will conduct assessment missions to affected areas, take a census and collect data of affected zones, develop a full ACT appeal application, co-ordinate with other ACT members in Colombia and with Mayor’s Office, Colombian Red Cross, Defense Civil and the Colombian Military Forces.

So far, the ACT Coordinating Office has approved the use of US$ 40,648 towards the budget from its Rapid Response Fund.

Implementation period will be three months from the day funding is received for the requested funds.