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Monday 03 April 2017

ShelterBox to assess shelter needs after Colombia landslides
ShelterBox to assess shelter needs after Colombia landslides

As the flood-stricken Colombian city of Mocoa counts its dead and searches for hundreds missing after frightening mudslides, global disaster relief charity ShelterBox has been invited by the Red Cross to help in the aftermath of this latest South American flood disaster. 
 
A plaintive message was posted on ShelterBox’s Facebook site today. It was from Gloria Cajavilca, Secretary of the Rotary Club of Bogota DC in Colombia. She wrote, ‘I'd like to know how we can bring ShelterBox to Mocoa, which yesterday suffered a major collapse in which there are many victims.’
 
Gloria is referring to torrential rains that brought a sudden onslaught of water, mud, trees and rocks to the city of Mocoa in South West Colombia over the weekend. Several rivers overflowed, and although warnings were sounded many people failed to hear them, or had time to get out of danger. Colombia's director of the National Disaster Risk Management Unit told news agencies that a third of the region's expected monthly rain fell during the night.
 
With search and rescue underway, there have been 250 casualties in this city of 350,000 people. 1,100 soldiers and police are involved in the relief effort. Video footage from the city shows residents crying over a list of missing children, along with their ages, pinned to a family welfare center.
 
Disaster relief agency ShelterBox is deploying a team and has shelter aid already stored in the country. It also has a team currently in neighboring Peru, monitoring shelter need after flooding since mid-March killed an estimated 78, demolished over 100,000 homes, washed out bridges, and affected more than 640,000 people along Peru’s northern coastal strip.
 
ShelterBox Operations Co-ordinator Ayeasia Macintyre says, ‘We have approached our in-country contacts and colleague agencies from previous responses in Colombia to see if they can provide us with any information on the most urgent needs, and any emerging shelter strategy for people made homeless following this tragedy. As is often the case in South American natural disasters, one of our main lines of contact is with Rotarians who can provide eyewitness information and local knowledge. The Red Cross has already asked ShelterBox for assistance and a team is now en route.’
 
As well as the current assessment role in Peru, ShelterBox also spent many months last year providing equipment and rebuilding kits to people in the coastal communities of neighboring Ecuador affected by the 7.8 earthquake that struck Ecuador almost a year ago. From 2009 through to 2011 ShelterBox responded to flooding in Colombia, earning praise from the country’s President. 
 
ShelterBox USA President Kerri Murray adds, ‘As leaders in delivering humanitarian aid, ShelterBox is uniquely able to offer emergency shelter to the families affected in Colombia.  We are in touch with local Government, Rotary and other charity contacts to coordinate our efforts. Our highly trained ShelterBox Teams are ready to assist with shelter, water purification, solar lights, mosquito nets, cooking equipment and whatever else is needed to ensure families can survive and recover from this devastating disaster.’



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