By Laura Aviles, Staff Writer
I would have loved to write about the opportunities for investment in Peru by throwing out some numbers from the World Bank. It would be highlighted as one of the South American countries with the biggest growth, boasting +3.9% in 2016. Perhaps that could be a good idea for a next article. Right now, the circumstances in my country are difficult. Mother nature has hit us hard, creating several disasters. Even good planning and prevention systems are under water, literally. Sometimes growth doesn’t come hand in hand with development, does it?
While we in Arizona are starting to leave winter, the Southern Hemisphere is still in summer. Particularly in Peru and Ecuador, where “El niño costero” or “Fenomeno del niño” (A boy phenomenon) is causing weather that hasn’t been seen since 1998. This natural phenomenon is generated by an increased warming of the surface of the Pacific waters, and mainly affects Southeast Asia, Australia, and South America. It is characterized by the entry of a mass of warm water into the sea, which generates an abnormal increase in weather changes, such as rising sea temperature as well as intense rain and drought. Weeks of rain have caused rivers across Peru to rise, and have forced people to flee their homes. Since the rainy season began earlier this month, several cities have declared a state of emergency. According to the latest report of COEN, the torrential downpours have killed at least 91 people and 700,000 people have been left homeless in 12 of the country’s 25 regions.
People used to call Lima, the capital of Peru, “Lima la gris,” which means Lima the Grey. This refers to its constantly cloudy, grey environment. Higher levels of humidity have always surrounded the capital, giving the feeling that it will rain – except it almost never does. Recently, it did rain, but the most unusual thing that happened is that the main rivers in the capital have been overflowing and even mudslides have occurred, generating a lot of damage to houses, highways, fields, animals, and certainly people. Clogged water treatment systems cause restrictions on running water. It has led to a shortage of water for three days in many districts of Lima, and a shortage of bottled water in supermarkets.
Under extreme circumstances, the courage of the Peruvian people emerges. This was expressed in Evangelina Chamorro, a mother who dramatically escaped from a mudslide that consumed her home. It happened while she was feeding her pigs at her farm, and suddenly heard a roar that covered her and her husband with mud and separated them. The following video, which went viral, shows her struggle and bravery to came out of what seemed to be imminent death.
In the hardest moments, Peruvians have united to help each other. Under the hashtags, #unasolafuerza and #prayforperu, people have started to collaborate by donating money or supplies such as clothes, shoes, blankets, etc. People are trying to help in any way they can.
This week the situation hasn’t improved at all. In fact, it has been worsening on the northern coast, where provinces like Piura are totally flooded. The entire population has been out of communication, due to the emergence of rivers, which generate panic among them. Nevertheless, there is always the solidarity of people such as Roberto Guzmán Amaya who used his surf board and a floating unicorn to rescue trapped people. The image of Roberto saving a little girl and her pet has become a symbol of hope for the population. A graphic artist Emanuel Emarts drew this scene as a show of solidarity and support for the Piurans. It said: “Not all heroes wear a cape.”
The meteorological national service SENAMHI has announced more rains for the next weeks. El Niño Costero will stay at least until April. Peru still needs help. There is certainly a lack of infrastructure and prevention systems to support this kind of flooding. So, what can we do? If you like to donate, you can do it through the website of the Embassy of Peru in the USA by clicking here. Another way is by sharing the hashtag #prayforperu or #helpperu to create awareness so that more people can join and support.