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Coastal "El Niño" Hits Hard in 2017

Peru’s brutal rainy season causes considerable damage

Due to an unusually heavy rainy season that has manifested in torrential downpours, mudslides and flooding throughout the country, Peru’s rainy season has been particularly devastating this summer, severely damaging the infrastructure of the country and drastically changing the lives of many Peruvians.

Historic flooding has resulted in more than 100 fatalities and has displaced thousands more, leaving many homeless. More than 150,000 homes and businesses have been flooded, leaving behind an estimated US$ 3.1 billion in damage.

President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (PPK) has sent hundreds of military and police to help with relief efforts and to rescue people trapped in flooded houses. Despite these actions, there have been widespread complaints that the government and officials were responding too slowly. Moreover, damage to roads and highways has complicated relief efforts.

According to official reports, the flooding has damaged approximately 4,660 miles of roadway and 509 pedestrian and vehicular bridges. Currently Peru’s Transport Ministry has sent construction crews to affected areas to fix the damaged bridges or install temporary replacements. Of the 509 damaged bridges, 100 have completely collapsed. In addition, crews are working not only to reverse the damage, but employ better bridge designs that will hold up better in the future.

Some of the affected roadway includes portions of the Pan-American North, an important highway that runs the entire length of the coastal strip of Peru, linking important centers of trade. The damage and difficulties posed by the destruction have prompted President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski to declare the reconstruction of this vital highway a priority.

The flooding has also affected tourism. At least 50 important archaeological sites were damaged by the flooding, leading tourists to change or cancel their travel plans in Peru. More than economic consequences, Peru is at risk of losing many significant pieces of history.

There has been a great surge of action in the Nation’s capital and across Peru in the form of donations to assist the relief efforts. Minister Martin Vizcarra told Reuters that approximately 4,000 tonnes of aid have been donated and distributed so far, mostly coming from Peruvian families. However, another 4,000 tonnes will likely be needed in the coming months. Local donations have been tapering off, but displaced families are still in need of bottled water, canned food, tents, toilet paper, medicine and other basic items.

More recently, international aid has started to arrive. The United States recently provided US$ 755,000, while China has pledged US$ 1.5 million. Colombia, Venezuela, France, South Korea, Ecuador, the Vatican and others are also pledging donations.

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