3 March 2010: Heavy rains and floods have once more hit Plan’s programme units in Cusco, Peru. The province endured 24 hours of continuous rain on 28 February - just weeks after initial flooding forced villagers out of their homes and into camps.
Rivers that overflowed during the first emergency have now burst their banks again, leading to flooded homes, collapsed highways and lost lives. Only days ago it was the coastal areas of Peru that disaster specialists were most worried about. After the 8.8 earthquake that hit neighbouring Chile, there was a real possibility of a tsunami hitting the coast, and both Chile and Peru were placed on tsunami warning.
Citizens of the Taray district capital were woken in the early hours 1 March to water from the overflowing K’ersermayo River which swamped 80% of homes in the area. The Coya zone, an area where Plan has worked for over 10 years, has also been badly affected by the overflowing Vilcanota River. The river Huatanay has once more flooded the surrounding area. The highway between Cusco and Taray and the town of Pisaq located in the Urubamba Valley has been destroyed, blocking off at least one route that could be used to transport humanitarian aid to affected areas.
During the first series of rains and floods in the area, Plan distributed emergency kits in Huacarpay and Zurite, as well as installing potable water tanks at the shelter sites. Plan designed centres for psychosocial support, called Kusi Wasis (or Houses of Happiness in the indigenous Quechua language) and helped the Peruvian government’s medical and psychological team.
Currently, between 40 and 80 children attend psychosocial support sessions at the centres every day in the Huacarpay and Zurite emergency shelter zones. Right now, Plan Peru continues to coordinate with local authorities in wake of this new disaster, providing fuel for the machinery used to clear landslides and handing out clothing kits with boots, blankets, and other warm clothing.
The Fireman’s Association of Cusco and the Green Squadron Police have reported 7 official deaths and at least 30 missing people in this latest disaster, with children reported to be among them. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed along with potable water systems and hundreds of hectares of grain, furthering fears of a food security crisis later in the year.