Thursday, june 16: The ShelterBox response to the worst floods in Colombia’s history has reached a close after months of work delivering emergency shelter and lifesaving supplies to families who lost everything.
Close to 3,000 ShelterBoxes have been distributed throughout the country since November 2010. The last ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) operating in the country distributed aid in some of the most remote regions.
"We were operating in some extremely remote areas and at high altitudes," said SRT member Joe Canon. "We’ve had to deal with the flooding but also scores of landslides that have been triggered by the rains.
This is the worst flooding the country has ever dealt with and in some places we’ve only been able to distribute by boat. The landslides continue to cause a string of problems.
In Gramalote it looked like an earthquake in slow motion and the land was visibly moving every day. The second tower of the church collapsed while we were in the town."
ShelterBox’s efforts in response to the floods have received praise from the Colombian President, First Lady and Colombia’s ambassador in the UK.
Ambassador Maurico Rodriguez Munera said: "I take this opportunity to reiterate my admiration for your efforts and those of your team to alleviate the pain of victims of natural disasters all over the world.
On behalf on the people and government of Colombia, once again, I would like to thank you for the generosity of your contribution and the solidarity shown with the communities affected by the heavy rains and floods in our country."
Wednesday, May 25: The ShelterBox response to the ongoing flooding and landslides throughout Colombia is helping to make a difference to the lives of hundreds of families.
Continued flooding and widespread landslides have left thousands in need of lifesaving supplies and emergency shelter. 1,244 ShelterBoxes are currently being distributed throughout the affected regions.
ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) member Jen Kormendy (CA) says ShelterBox’s work is making a huge difference.
"In La Venecia, the 25 families who received ShelterBoxes were so appreciative that we were hailed as heroes," she said. "But it’s all of you at home who have raised awareness of ShelterBox’s mission or donated a box that are the true heroes.
We share stories with the recipients about where the boxes come from. Whether it’s children selling lemonade, baked goods or donating their birthday money or Rotarians organising campouts, we make sure they know the boxes are from people around the globe and they’re always blown away by that.
People have been so appreciative of the tents and other contents of the box, it really does make a difference."
Friday, may 13: Tens of thousands of homes destroyed, hundreds of thousands more damaged and no let up in sight. This is the scene in Colombia where the worst rains in 50 years continue to cause chaos across the country.
Between September 2010 and May 2011 Colombia has received more than five times the amount of rainfall it would usually expect. 12,000 homes have been destroyed, 356,000 have been damaged and an estimated 3 million people have been affected.
So far 1,224 ShelterBoxes have been committed in response to the flooding with distribution of emergency shelter and lifesaving supplies well underway.
ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) member Jen Kormendy (CA) says ShelterBox tents are already saving lives.
‘In the small township of Piles, people are living in makeshift “cambuches” along the dirt road near their flooded homes,’ she said.
"We found an additional five families who were sheltering in the local school. On initial inspection it seemed the temporary shelters were adequate, however, after talking to the families it was clear that their lack of protection from mosquitoes, rats and snakes when they slept was a serious concern."
"We were hammered by mosquitoes in the middle of the day and could only imagine what it would be like at night with no screens or mosquito netting. In an area where malaria and dengue fever are threats, our tents will save lives."
Tuesday, May 3: ShelterBox has returned to Colombia for the second time in less than six months after widespread flooding has affected an estimated three million people.
Heavy rains throughout April have caused floods to sweep through huge swathes of Colombia, which had already been hit hard by flooding at the end of 2010. 1,600 ShelterBoxes were distributed to families then and now further aid is needed to deal with the latest floods.
224 ShelterBoxes have been flown from Panama, where they were pre-positioned, to Colombia by the country’s air force. Sallie Buck (UK), one of the ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) members working in the country, says there is a big need for emergency shelter.
ShelterBox continues to work with the Colombian authorities to bring emergency aid to the affected families. Colombia’s first lady, Maria Clemencia Rodriguez has thanked the SRT members for their work after visiting the first camp they set up in Barrancabermeja.