More weather and water shortages

The weather situation here has just gotten worse since the last time I wrote about it. It’s even getting a small nod in the international news, and when that happens for a weather-related event, you know it’s a big deal. Still, they’ve just been tiny shout outs: “MUDSLIDES IN PERU KILL ##, LEAVE ###,### HOMELESS” followed by a three sentence article. HERE and HERE are two of the more substantive ones I’ve seen.

See that brown spot in the ocean? That’s where one of the rivers comes out. The rivers are dumping all sorts of mud and waste and trash into the ocean.

The problems are stemming from the highlands in the northern part of Peru. They’re getting a lot of rain, and all of the water runoff is more than the usual rivers can handle. A bunch of rivers that haven’t seen water in years are getting flooded, and due to some poor planning, their paths are now blocked by roads and houses. Well, I guess they’re not really “blocked”… more like there are roads and houses in the way, but the water doesn’t care and has been just plowing through and causing all sorts of destruction. There’s a ridiculous amount of personal property damage, not to mention the infrastructure damage. At least one major bridge has collapsed which isn’t exactly encouraging.
It’s ironic, but due to the flooding, there are water shortages all over Lima. The water in different parts of the city has been turned off most of the time over the last week because they’re having issues with the water treatment system. People have been buying out all of the water at the grocery stores, and when they did manage to turn some water back on, they had to turn it off again because people were stockpiling and the system couldn’t handle it. There have been scattered power outages too, but as far as I know, water is the biggest problem.

Here’s the previously bone-dry Chilca River. It’s definitely not dry anymore. This is one of the rivers that is running around our water well and making it so we can’t get running water right now. We went to check this out on Friday. You can see a wave coming down the river to the right of the middle of the picture. Those waves just kept on rolling down, as if the water wasn’t running fast enough. The big damp-looking dirt area above that little island was also covered with water just days earlier, but our neighborhood rented a backhoe that has been digging a trench for the river to run down in the hopes that it won’t keep spreading out.

The schools in Lima are closed all week, which includes the schools that our kids go to. We heard that some schools tried to stay open last week after the problems started and got fined for it! The after-school program is suspended until school starts again, but the overnight program is still running. The kids who stay over are just hanging out here all day, playing outside and watching movies and doing activities. It’s kind of like summer school all over again. A few extra kids are staying over this week too, from some families who are really in a tough place or whose parents need to go to work and have no one to stay home.
We’re technically in the Lima province, but we’re way outside of the city. Things are slightly better here, but the people who live around us without running water are struggling too. Usually, there are water trucks that drive around the neighborhoods at somewhat scheduled times, and people who need their water tanks filled flag down the truck and buy water. With the increased demand for water trucks, the water service isn’t nearly as consistent, leaving people with no clue of how long they’ll have to wait for another one to come. We’re lucky here. We have huge water tanks, so we have a much more significant supply than other people. Still, we need to be super careful. The kids’ shower and laundry schedules have been adjusted, and we’re doing everything possible to cut back and conserve.

Things are okay now, but it’s unnerving having such an unknown future. They’re estimating that these flash flooding and mudslide problems will keep cropping up over at least the next two weeks. A lot can happen in two weeks!

I’m leaving here on Thursday to do my week of touristing, and at least at the moment, it sounds like everything is okay in Cusco and around Machu Picchu. They’re more in the southern part of the country, out of the affected zone. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that things stay that way! Or better yet that something changes with the weather and these problems stop altogether.

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