There is Massive Flooding in Peru but We are Safe

As many people may know from international news, Peru has been dealing with massive rains, flooding and landslides all over the coast from Tumbes to the North all the way down to Moquegua in the south. Check out this article and interactive map from Peruthisweek.com. It is intense to see all the areas affected. Lima is definitely one of the affected areas with massive rains in Chosica and in the northern districts that have caused landslides and thus caused our water to be shut off. The plant cannot capture good water with all the mud and debris in the Rimac River. We have not been affected directly by the floods and have fortunately no been evacuated or lost our home like thousands have, but we have been without running water for the past 4 days. There is nothing compared to losing everything and possibly loved ones to natural disasters like flooding and I cannot even imagine how stressed and at a loss so many Peruvians are feeling right now who are directly affected by the flooding, but having access to water or lack of it is also stressful.

This was the line for water on Friday morning in the Metro in Barranco.

Fortunately, we have been able to stock up on drinking water on a daily basis and the groceries stores have been limiting water to 5 liters per family. We also have access to a water spigot inside our complex which we just learned about yesterday evening. We are able to get enough water to flush toilets, do dishes and take sponge baths and do the most necessary laundry (aka Leah’s accidents). There was a line for water on Friday morning and there continue to be lines for water at the fill up stations which is to be expected. We all need water and not just for drinking.

Bags were numbered and limited to 5 liters.

On Wednesday night I was informed by my husband that we should stock up on water and maybe some dried goods just in case so I went to Vivanda to get water and there was nothing left. People hoarded it really fast. There was no limit on water at that point so I bought a few bottles of Evian (at 5 soles a liter!!)

The water was shut off on Thursday but we had water all day until the evening because we have a tank in our apartment building. However, we are suffering from the pump not being turned off and breaking. Water was turned on last night at 10pm and filled our tank but because the pump is broken, the water doesn’t get to any of us. The other issue is that one of our neighbors was taking water from the tank directly instead of going to a fill up point specifically for refill purposes.

I bought water on Friday morning and there was quite a line as seen above. Fortunately, there have not been lines like that in the Metro in Chorrillos because it has been well stocked and everyone knows that the limit is 5 liters unless you buy a 20 liter box or a 7 liter plastic bottle.

Sedapal, the water works company in Lima put out information at various time saying when the water would be turned back on but due to landslides throughout the past couple days it wasn’t turned on until 2pm yesterday afternoon taking hours to reach certain districts. Now, the president of Sedapal is reluctant to give any time frames as we are at the whim of any new landslides that may occur and cause the water plant to lose the ability to capture water.

School was closed for all Lima Metropolitan schools both public and private on Thursday and Friday with the idea in mind that it would be dangerous for teachers and students to try and get to schools if they had to cross any of the flooded areas. The landslides came later and caused water to be shut off which meant that hundreds of students would be using bathrooms with no water and that is not acceptable or hygienic.

Then, last night we were informed by the Ministry of Education that school would be closed on Monday and Tuesday for Metropolitan Lima and until Friday the 24th for schools in the provinces affected by the flooding, which is basically all the northern provinces and a few southern ones too.

My school informed us that while we are not obligated to come to work they would like us to be there from 8am to 1pm. The kindergarten teachers have decided to carry on with their scheduled appointments with parents and I plan on going with Leah to help with the collection of donations from parents. I have heard from other teacher friends that at other schools they are saying it is voluntary but if they don’t go, teachers will be asked to come to work during May vacation. I really don’t think that is the case with my school since there was no mention of taking away vacation days.

There has been an outpouring of donations in the form of water, diapers, mattresses, dry and canned goods to be sent to the affected areas. I dropped off some clothing and food with a friend of mind who went to Punta Hermosa to the south of Lima to distribute goods. It is going to be a while before things get back to normal and there is still rain coming down in many areas so we are subject to even more destruction before reconstruction can start. Right now it is all about getting people out of immediate danger and providing them with basic necessities. The armed forces have been hard at work rescuing people who have been stranded. If you are reading this and want to donate, I have found a gofundme page put up by Meraki Peru NGO. You can also send money directly to Caritas del Peru by checking out this page. There is a translation to English in the comments section. The Peruvian Red Cross is accepting donations as well. Everything and anything helps!

We are keeping calm and not exerting ourselves too much in order to keep our water loss to a minimum. We are also trying not to cook as much so we don’t have to do dishes but there is still a massive pile of dishes at the end of the evening to be done campout style in multiple bowls of water.

I washed some of Leah’s clothes tonight and used a cup to pour water on the soapy clothes so as not to get more water soapy. It worked pretty well.

Thankfully, bathing Leah doesn’t require a lot of water since her tub is pretty small. And as for our showers, we just use a cup and pour the water over ourselves. It is called a baño del balde (balde is a bucket).

Like I said before, I have been humbled immensely by this situation and while I have made it a point regularly to conserve water and only shower once a day with turning it off during lathers, I have a whole new appreciation for running water. There are so many people who trek to get water every day. It is our most precious element and we should treat it as such.

Thank you for all the concern and good vibes everyone has been sending us. We are doing fine and as of two minutes ago, I was informed that our pump will be fixed tonight so we will have a shower tonight at the very least. It will be enjoyed to the maximum as I give thanks for water and health in a time of such chaos and uncertainty for so many.

  • Clif Brown

    I wonder about the connection between this rain and El Nino/La Nina. When El Nino is strong, you get hotter than normal weather, right? I wonder if more rain will go along with that. I found this chart (scroll down just a little on the page to see it) http://ggweather.com/enso/oni.htm You had mentioned that there was a lot of flooding back in the 80’s and it looks like there was a very strong El Nino in 82-83.

    • Amy

      It is definitely the effect of El Nino and probably coupled with our (humanity’s) effect on climate change.