The torrential rains caused by hurricane Iota in the Caribbean, they have caused disasters in several Colombian regions where those affected number in the thousands and the authorities are on alert for what may happen in the San Andrés archipelago, which is on the path of a tropical cyclone.
While the scenes in Cartagena de Indias They are of flooded streets and of people staying in temporary shelters, in the Caribbean islands of San Andrés and Providencia, strongly affected last week by Hurricane Eta, the authorities are preparing for the Iota pass that advances with winds exceeding 140 kilometers per hour.
The rains have also caused landslides and floods in municipalities such as Dabeiba, in the department of Antioquia (northwest), where three people died and there are half a thousand victims, or in Chocó, an impoverished and jungle region on the border with Panama in which there are contingencies in more than a dozen populations.
In addition to the hurricane, the rains in the country, which affect several more departments, obey the La Niña climate phenomenon, for which rainfall is expected for at least 30 more days.
“At least it is one more month that we are going to have rainfall. We hope that they are not so strong, what the Ideam (Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies) tells us is that the phenomenon of La Niña is present”, said President Iván Duque on a visit to Dabeiba.
Archipelago on alert
San Andrés, of which the islands of Providencia and Santa Catalina are also part, is the only insular department in Colombia and its economy is based on tourism.
That region was just beginning to count the losses caused by Eta, which left two wounded, 141 families affected, six homes destroyed and 64 more damaged, as well as 24 commercial establishments and a community center affected.
The director of Ideam, Yolanda González, assured that Hurricane Iota maintains category one but “continues to strengthen in the Caribbean Sea Colombian as it approaches the archipelago. “
“It continues with winds of 140 kilometers per hour, with stronger gusts and has increased its speed of travel to 15 kilometers per hour,” said the official.
He added that it is about 360 kilometers from the island of San Andrés, populated by more than 55,000 people, and about 310 kilometers from Providencia, where about 5,000 citizens live.
According to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC), the tropical cyclone is expected to continue moving through the southwestern Caribbean Sea today and pass near or over Providencia on Monday.
The San Andrés Risk Management coordinator, Walden Downs, explained to Efe that in the face of the imminent passage of Iota, local authorities are taking measures to reduce the impact that the cyclone may cause.
“We have already gone directly through the neighborhoods, with the community action boards, cleaning the gutters, the drains. We have enabled four temporary shelters in the upper area of the island and two more in the lower part,” he explained.
The mecca of tourism flooded
Cartagena de Indias, which is the mecca of Colombian tourism, is 70% flooded, according to its mayor, William Dau, who also decreed a public calamity in the city to attend to the emergency.
“Yesterday we had 31,500 homes affected, which were approximately 150,000 people. We had landslides, overflows, floods and many people lost their homes,” Dau said today in a video published by the National Unit for Disaster Risk Management (UNGRD).
Recognized sites such as the historic center, usually packed with tourists, or towns such as Albornoz, Villa Rosa, Olaya Herrera, Pablo VI and Bayunca have been affected by this situation that has a city that is just beginning to recover from the economic impact of the covid-19 pandemic.
Likewise hundreds of families who lost their homes were transferred to temporary shelters, while the beaches are closed and there is a prohibition to set sail for boats to the insular area until further notice.
Landslides in Antioquia
One of the most difficult situations caused by the torrential downpours occurred in the municipality of Dabeiba, where landslides in rural areas leave three dead and eight missing.
The number of missing persons was reduced by half compared to the 16 reported yesterday after the authorities found eight people alive, who are already in the “five shelters that the municipality has set up for the affected people,” said the governor. from Antioquia, Aníbal Gaviria.
The three deceased were identified as Gabriel Lopera, 85, and Sandra Milena Gaviria Arango, 19, and their daughter Cataleya Andrea David Gaviria, 19 months.
The disaster in Dabeiba also leaves 497 people affected, 20 injured, 67 homes destroyed, 104 damaged and three educational centers affected.
In Chocó there are more than 28,000 people affected by the rains, three are injured and one died, while five houses were destroyed, 27 more are affected and three bridges are damaged.
One of the most complex situations was experienced by the municipality of Lloró, where the rains caused floods and even a bridge fell down.