Survivors of a mudslide in a small city in southwest Colombia are struggling to locate loved ones, get to safe place, and access clean drinking water after heavy rains on Saturday caused three local rivers to overflow. The Colombian Red Cross estimates that at least 234 people have died, but there are many ways that you can help survivors of the Colombian flood, and support organizations that are working in the area to provide assistance.
While residents of Mocoa, Colombia were sleeping on Saturday, an unprecedented one-third of the city's usual monthly rainfall came in just one night, sending mud, water, and objects as large as trucks surging through the city of 40,000. The Associated Press reports that the death toll may continue to rise, as more than 200 people are injured and relief workers are still searching for remains in debris throughout the city.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos declared Mocoa a disaster zone on Sunday, and blamed climate change for the five inches of rain that devastated the city, according to the Associated Press. But he also pledged to work towards rebuilding the city and offering aid to survivors, stating that he plans to launch a health and vaccination campaign to prevent potential water-borne diseases from spreading.
"Mocoa needs to rise up from this blow," Santos told reporters on Sunday. "And it will."
Here are some ways you can help residents of Mocoa as they work towards healing and rebuilding after this tragic natural disaster.
1Support The Colombian Red Cross
The Colombian Red Cross has been sending teams of rescuers throughout the city to locate remains, rescue survivors trapped beneath debris, and deliver medicine and essential supplies. The organization announced on Sunday that it was not yet accepting monetary donations because it needs to establish a system of distribution for the funds, but you can still keep an eye on the group's official Facebook page and website for updates. The organization has been posting regularly about the progress that is being made in the area.
2Donate To Litros Que Ayudan
Litros Que Ayudan, which literally translates to "liters that help," is a non-profit that regularly provides donations of clean drinking water to residents of Colombia, who are frequently at risk of water shortages and drought. By donating to this organization directly through its website, you can ensure that clean drinking water is delivered to survivors who have been stranded without electricity or basic necessities while many of their homes have been destroyed.
3Donate to Mercy Corps
Mercy Corps is a global humanitarian aid agency that has been providing disaster relief and working for sustainable development in countries around the world for over three decades. The organization now has a team on the ground in Mocoa, and has reported on its website that survivors in the city are urgently in need of food, clean water, blankets, and hygiene kits. You can help the organization provide these necessities by making a donation online.
4Donate to UNICEF Colombia
Please donate to Unicef Colombia to help the children that have been terribly affected by the mudslides in Mocoa, Colombia. https://t.co/LHscEgHjCc— Karen Sultanik (@Karensulsim) April 2, 2017
UNICEF is a United Nations program that provides humanitarian assistance in developing countries around the world. UNICEF Colombia is working on the ground to provide relief and supplies to affected areas of the country. You can stay updated on its work by following the group on Twitter, or make a donation online.
5Call Your Representatives To Talk About Climate Change
Tragedies in Peru and Colombia call us to continue to fight climate change. Our thoughts are with the families who lost loved ones.— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) April 3, 2017
The President of Colombia has already named climate change as the main cause of the torrential downpour that caused so many in his country to be killed or displaced. Though his claim hasn't been proven, it's unfortunate that many American politicians, including the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, deny that climate change exists, and are currently working towards changing policies that would protect the environment by imposing regulations on businesses and the coal industry.
Recent natural disasters, like this weekend's flood in Colombia and last year's floods in Tamil Nadu, India that killed hundreds after months of unusual monsoon rains, show how crucial it is to understand how humans affect the environment. It's important to make your voice heard about current legislative decisions that can either combat or enhance global warming. You can find your state's representatives here, and give them a phone call or send an email expressing your concern about climate change's negative effects on the environment. You can also urge them to stand against Trump's recent executive orders to repeal Obama's Clean Power Plan, a move that effectively ends programs that reduce carbon emissions.
The people of Colombia have suffered an unimaginable tragedy, and it's important that each of us strive to do our part to offer assistance. Whether you donate to an aid organization, spread awareness about the natural disaster on social media, or speak directly with your elected representatives about taking measures to ensure that this kind of event doesn't happen in the future, you can play a role in supporting survivors.