Greetings from sunny Peru!
Since we are south of the Equator, we’re in the middle of a very hot and humid summer here in Lima right now. The last few days have been unbelievably hot and we’ve found ourselves seeking out air conditioning at the grocery store, the mall or just anywhere we can find fan to catch a breeze. The strong air conditioning inside the bank sure makes standing in long lines less of a chore!
While it is hot along the coast, it is the rainy season in the Andes Mountains and the region as a whole has received more rainfall than usual. The added rain is causing some of the worst flooding and mudslides in its recorded history not only in the mountains but here in Lima as well. The river beds in Lima that are normally dry or with very minimal water year-round have turned into raging torrents.
Apart from the excessive rain in the mountains, the city of Lima has received several inches of rain in the last few weeks (a typical year is about 1 inch total). We know that “several inches” of rain does not sound drastic, but it is devastating for Lima which does not have the proper infrastructure to handle even these small amounts.
The situation is so bad that Sedapal, the government water company, periodically shuts off water to the entire city of 10 million people for certain hours of the day. There is so much debris in the river water from the landslides that they cannot open their water intake lines without damaging the system. Last week we they shut off water for about 12 hours and again right now it is off until 6am tomorrow. It sounds like this will be a recurring event while it continues to rain in the mountains and city, which could be through March. Thankfully many buildings (including our apartment) have water storage tanks which fill when the water is on ensuring we have a constant supply. We still need to ration our water and end up filling a couple buckets just in case, but it still is a little worrisome.
While the flooding is primarily affecting the outskirts of Lima and has not reached the part of town where we live, it is a great concern for the city as a whole. Roads have been closed, some bridges have been washed away and many people have had considerable damage on their homes. The Central Highway, which takes you out of Lima towards the east and to Kimo (one of Scripture Union’s campgrounds) has been shut down because of flooding and landslides. This video from the El Comercio newspaper was taken about 1 mile from the Scripture Union Peru office downtown.
The city of Ica has also been affected by heavy rainfall in the mountains. Again, being a desert city that receives very little rainfall each year, the infrastructure is not set up to receive flash flooding or landslides.
Thankfully, the Girasoles home in Ica is on slightly higher ground and is not affected by the flooding, but surrounding areas like the neighborhood where the boys attend school and the shanty town where we used to deliver water with work teams are flooded. The river, which normally sits dry year round, is far above flood stage right now.
Please join us in praying for Lima and all of cities that are affected in this natural disaster. Pray that the rains will let up, the streets will dry up and water levels in the rivers will go down. It is not only hard for people to get around the city, but the water is also filthy and unhealthy. Pray for the safety and health of those living in these flooded areas.
– Kate & Billy