At least 72 people have died in several days of floods and mudslides triggered by heavy rains in Peru.
Last week I had a panicked phone call from Cristina, our project coordinator in Lima. I had seen a couple of things on Facebook about heavy rain, but as the story had not reached the headlines over here, I hadn’t fully realised that Peru has been hit by the worst flooding in almost thirty years. With half the country affected, more than 800 towns and cities have declared a state of emergency.
In Lima where most of our ladies are based, the problem is not just the flooding which has washed away roads, bridges, houses and livestock, but the lack of drinking water and threat of disease. We have kept in regular contact with Cristina and the other ladies over the weekend and although some of them are still without running water, the authorities have mobilised tankers with water to travel to each district to ensure that at least they have enough to drink.
This footage is of one of the most astonishing stories that has emerged from the tragedy, it shows Evangelina Chamorro Diaz, struggling free from a whirlpool of mud on the outskirts of Lima just 20 minutes down the road from where Cristina lives.
She took her children to school and then went to feed her pigs as usual, who were grazing near the river banks, then she and the pigs where swept into the river by a massive landslide. She was carried over 30 miles down stream but survived by grabbing onto pieces of wood and tree branches and finally managed to struggle out, helped by on lookers in Lima. She was taken to hospital and is being treated for minor injuries and shock, but reported to be in a stable condition.
With all natural disasters of this kind, this will impact thousands of lives for months to come. I am going out to Peru after Easter so will be able to see the long term affects and we can work out what we can do to help those who have lost everything. In the meantime if you want to make a donation to the disaster relief fund you can do so through the Red Cross at http://bit.ly/2nDsxwl
A little goes a long way, just £20 will provide food and clean drinking water for one person for a week.