It’s now four weeks since I was in Iquitos, during which time the flooding has got worse.
The Red Cross now estimate that in the region 200, 000 people have been affected, 43,000 homes flooded; a number that is still rising as the water levels increase meaning that perhaps 1 in 3 people are flooded in the area.
There are some attempts at help. The local authorities have created some evacuation centres, the Red Cross is helping about 800 families. But these solutions aren’t great. In a Report the Red Cross (Report) says of the centres in Iquitos,
“These families are currently sheltered in 64 collective centres, of which 10 are located in the Belen district, 19 in Iquitos, 14 in Punchana and 21 in San Juan. Unfortunately, assessments indicate that the collective centres do not fulfil minimal standards of privacy, security and hygiene due to overcrowding. Some families are living in 8m2 areas, separated by plastic sheets of 1.70 metres high. As the situation is expected to deteriorate in the following weeks if the rivers continue to rise, activities need to be performed in order to improve living conditions of affected families sheltered in collective centres.”
Other organisations, such as ShelterBox (web link) are assessing what they can do.
Hopefully the water levels will stabilise in the next week or so but it will be several months before the flooding is over. During which time disease remains a significant hazard. This is on top of the hazards of electrocution (there are reports of people dying) and animals (I was told of one family who found an alligator in their house).
Of course this is just one of a number of situations around the globe which do not receive media attention.
As to what we can do, once I've found out I'll post it here. My link has been with the Baptist Churches of Iquitos (who don't really have the capacity to do much) and with BMS:world mission and their supported people.
Sunday 22nd: Do pray for the church in Punchana in particular and for the pastor there. As the land is declared uninhabitable and people are moved they need wisdom to know what to do, and the resources to do it.