Caritas Chile is assessing people’s needs in northern Chile after freak flooding left communities under mud and water.
The rains were the worst in 80 years. None of the communities were in any way prepared for the floods. The area is a desert region had been suffering from drought until just a few days earlier.
Around 11,000 people have been affected by the disaster with 4,500 having left their homes. Over a dozen people are dead but the number is expected to rise as around 20 people are still missing.
One mother, Costanza, told Caritas staff, “There are children who haven’t eaten for over a day. They have no milk or bread – nothing. We’re waiting for basic things such as water, clothes and nappies to come through.”
Bishop Celestino Aós of the diocese of Copiapó is leading the Caritas response. He said, “We call on communities to be collaborative and to offer solidarity. People’s needs are going to be great and our job is to help those who are suffering the most –not forgetting that we’re in Holy Week.”
Caritas Chile say people need drinking water, food, hygiene items, clothes and help cleaning up their homes. They say the most affected areas are Taltal in the region of Antofagasta, Alto del Carmen, Tierra Amarilla, Chañaral and Diego de Almagro in the Atacama region.
Communities have been evacuated after rivers overflowed and people who sought safety on the roofs of houses have had to be rescued. Some communities have been cut off by the floods, therefore it is so far impossible to know the total number in need.
The floods have also affected neighbouring Peru, creating massive mudslides.
To donate to Caritas Chile’s relief efforts in the flooded areas, please visit their website.