How can Peru prepare to withstand more devastating floods and landslides?

The flood that hit Peru is one of the most damaging that has ever occurred. Ten times the normal amount of rainfall has hit the coast and has caused many landslides that have ruined numerous homes. More than 100 people have died, nearly 158,000 are homeless and 210,000 homes are damaged, according to the nation’s emergency center. The country’s infrastructure also suffered great losses as a result. 260 bridges collapsed and nearly 3,000km of roads are unusable, cutting off hundreds of villages and towns. Peru’s rainy season falls broadly in the first few months of every year. As Peru’s weather service , rain occurs in March and dry rivers often flood as a result. Peru is not well prepared for floods, and its weak building construction does not help matters.

Nieto who is the defense minister of the country has been leading recovery efforts and deploying armed forces across the country, says that cities and towns lacked basic flood defenses, and that the 30-odd rivers which flow from the Andes to the Pacific would need to channeled, especially in urban areas. Nieto also states that,rainwater can be stored in the water-stressed country. “That way we would guarantee our water supply so that the rains become a blessing, rather than a problem.” “Coastal El Niño,” as Peru has named the disaster has caused millions of dollars in damage. The first stage would pay for the “immediate reconstruction” of cities and towns. Infrastructure reconstruction will also be worked with to make Peru a more “modern and organized” country. It is important to note that Peru is a country that will be prone to more disasters in the future. The floods also temporarily threatened the water supply in Peru’s capital. More than 25 landslides, carrying tree trunks, dead livestock and rubble from destroyed homes clogged water treatment plants on the Rimac river, which effected the countries water supply for about five days.

The United Nations has also warned that Peru must invest in multi-hazard warning systems and ensure its citizens better understand the risks of such disasters. “This is a large-scale singular event which needs to be viewed in the context of a warming planet, where episodes of extreme weather variability are becoming more evident,” says Robert Glasser, the UN special representative of the secretary-general for disaster risk reduction.“If we are to succeed in preventing disasters like this, and to reduce disaster losses, then we need to ensure there is a much broader understanding of the nature of disaster risk in society. This includes better understanding of the impacts of climate change and how it alters local weather patterns.”

A local wades through muddy waters that have flooded the streets in La Union, northern Peru. Photograph: Ernesto Benavides/AFP/Getty Images

Cyclone Cook clean up

Before Cyclone Cook made landfall in New Zealand at the Bay of Plenty on Thursday it was predicted to be the worst cyclone to hit New Zealand since 1968. Prior to the Cyclones landfall on the Northern Island, New Zealand authorities declared a state of emergency and people fled their homes. The expected path of the cyclone was forecasted to pass right over the islands. The actual track of Cyclone Cook turned away from New Zealand. Since the cyclone was moving so fast the rain did not last long. Instead New Zealand dodged the bullet and the worst of the storm passed by out at sea.

When Cyclone Cook made land fall at 6:30 PM New Zealand time it caused power outages, extensive flooding, landslides, uprooted trees and caused road closures. Horizon Energy says that its customers should expect to remain without power for 3 days. Luckily there was only one casualty  and two people were sent to the hospital. On the South Island in Canterbury Christchurch sustained some of the most extensive flooding due to the Heathcote River overflowing its banks. Christchurch is the area that I am doing my case study for which is why this caught my attention.

Nasa satellite photo of Cyclone Cook approaching New Zealand, 12 April 2017 (issued 13 April 2017).

Tourists head towards Whitianga on State Highway 25, passing a slip.

Devastation in Lismore

About 40, 000 people were ordered to evacuate New South Wales (NSW) by the State Emergency Service ( SES), because of floods that were started from the Tweed River as well as the Wilsons River  located in Lismore.

“It’s very dangerous conditions out there over the next 24 hours,” said Acting Deputy Commissioner Mark Morrow.

It was advised caution as overnight rain would push Wilsons River to 11 meters especially when there is a population of more than 25, 000 people.

River levels are predicted to be higher than 2001 and 2005 floods, which made Acting Deputy Commissioner Mark Morrow advise caution as  “It’s very dangerous conditions out there over the next 24 hours.”

Many of the main streets of Lismore are under water which prevent people from returning to their homes and also the fact there are landslides.

Lismore  has been described as “a disaster zone” as receding floodwaters reveal damages that are causing major devastation.

The SES has cleared people to return back home but to still heed warnings as some roads are still closed and that there have been some deaths to have been confirmed.

Several bodies have been found when the clean up from the flood had commenced.

Several Severe Storm Predicted to Hit West Michigan

Today there are expected severe storms bringing in thunder, hail, heavy rain and a small chance of tornados. The strong storm surge is expected to enter the warm air system in west Michigan this morning. There will be around 3 different storms passing through, the first is expected to just be light showers and will end mid morning. The next storm to arrive in Michigan is likely to be more brutal. The second storm will come along the cold frontal passage and will likely last until 9pm tonight. Threats of this storm include heavy rain, hail and severe lightening; many people who live where the storm is expected to hit are advised to stay indoors and take precautions. There is a slight chance of tornados but not very likely.

The Storm Prediction Center predicts that the West Michigan is at slight risk for severe whether, which means that some aspects of the storm can be severe but not all.

Based on another weather forecast website, the region expecting to get hit by severe weather is now under marginal risk for severe weather, which means the risk is gradually decreasing. Areas such as Flint and the Northern Thumb are at highest places of risk based on levels of poverty but also the path of the storm.



Deadly Spring Storm Slams West Coast, Toppling Trees and Killing at Least 5

On Saturday, April 8th, a very powerful spring storm started to shy away from the West Coast, after ravaging up the coast and bringing heavy rains, wind, and downed trees and debris. 5 people were killed, 1 man was killed in Portland on Friday, April 7th when winds blew over a tree which fell on him. The other four died in a small plane crash outside the Oregon town of Harrisburg. While officials aren’t 100% sure what was the cause of the trash, it is assumed that the high winds contributed substantially.

In California, a BART barge sank in the San Francisco Bay around midnight on Friday, and dozens of homes in the Oakland Hills were forced to evacuate because of a mudslide, but nobody was killed or injured.

Around 168,000 people were without power in Washington County, and the winds also caused power outages in a dozen or so schools in Portland.

In Vancouver, Washington, a tree fell onto a fire truck but none of the firefighters were injured.

New Zealand towns flooding in wake of ex-cyclone Debbie

Cyclone Debbie has finished its main rampage on New Zealand but now parts of the continent are still dealing with the tail-end of the storm and resulting winds, rain, and flooding. A state of emergency has been declared for multiple areas of the North Island, stemming from the “500 year flood” that is flowing through the island. Rivers overflowed and burst because of the heavy rains and gale force winds that pounded the country for two full days.

Evacuations have been carried out in the area surrounding the Bay of Plenty, including the town of Edgecumbe, which was impacted the worst by the flood. The North Island is riddled with power outages, flooding, destroyed roads, and cutting off connections from town to town. The South Island town of Kaikoura has been cut off, and the entire Island has been warned of landslides, falling rock, and flooding.

Cyclone Debbie: Queensland premier says repair bill could run into billions

In the process of starting to repair Australia from the cyclone Debbie, it has been estimated that damage costs could run into the billions. Including the many homes that were destroyed, over 300 schools also need to be repaired. However, although things are being managed well with Cyclone Debbie, reports are also optimistic that the Fitzroy river would not surge to the  peak of 9.4 meters later this week, which would have  promised the worst floods in Rockhampton for decades. Although the possible flood for Fitzroy river has been decreased, the warning for the area is still being issued. Around 5,400 homes and businesses in the area, as well as railroads are under this area of warning. On Monday, crews will continue to go from home to home to inform people to evacuate.

Because of all of the damage that was caused from Cyclone Debbie, all of the 80,00 residents in the area will be urged to leave by Wednesday. The death toll has been surprisingly low in the wake of the disaster, only five deaths have been reported. Three men and two women were killed in separate incidents on Friday and Saturday. Three men and two women were killed in separate incidents on Friday and Saturday.Four of the deaths occurred in northern area. Lismore mayor Isaac Smith stated that the area looked like a, “war zone.” Lismore residents have been given the all-clear to return home but there were nine evacuation orders in place. Also, people have been warned to be wary of the water, as it may not be safe to drink. Authorities have stated that they understand people are irritated they aren’t allowed to return to their homes yet. It was interesting to me that so many people were willing to leave their homes because of the flooding. In some cases of natural disasters, one of the things that contribute to the deaths was people being unwilling to leave their homes despite warnings.



Low lying properties next to the swollen Fitzroy river in Rockhampton on Monday. Photograph: Dan Peled/AAP

Tornado Potential in Bangladesh and East India

Large thunderstorms, known locally as Kalboishakis, are currently threatening Bangladesh and parts of east India. In the past two days, the city of Sylet recorded 11.5 inches of rain. Along with the Kalboishakis often come tornadoes. We normally associate tornadoes with the southern U.S., but during early spring the climate in this region is similar to that of Tornado Alley in the U.S. – warm, moist air at low levels and drier cooler air at higher levels makes for perfect tornado conditions.

So far, no tornado has formed this season, but the risk for disaster is certainly present. Bangladesh has one of the densest populations in the world, which, coupled with weak infrastructure, makes the area particularly vulnerable to natural hazards. In 1989, a deadly tornado ripped through the Manikgani region killing 1,300 people and leaving 80,000 homeless.

Look out for tornados during the peak risk period of April 5th-11th. After the monsoon season hits in May we can expect the risk of tornadoes to decrease.

Read the AlJazeera story here.

Cyclone Debbie: Tragedy Strikes on the Coast of Australia

Cyclone Debbie, a level four cyclone, caused tragedy and destruction in Queensland, Australia. The residents of Queensland were told to get out as fast as they can, as it was said to be the biggest flood to hit Rockhampton in over sixty years. Debbie was not the most damaging cyclone that has ever hit the Australian coast, but it was one of the largest.

Those who had decided to stay, lost power and running water for three whole days. Debbie created disaster zones across an 870-mile stretch of eastern Australia to the south and there were gusts of wind that were at 163 mph.

Bowen, Proserpine and the Whitsundays were the parts of Queensland that were hit the hardest. Roads we’re flooded, the weather was absolutely terrible and  power and phone networks were damaged. There were no immediate deaths but there have been two victims that were found dead in flood water.

The storm also damaged a multitude of properties, making about 270 uninhabitable.

Declared a catastrophe, the total cost of Debbie has been estimated to be more than one billion, as well as the sugar cane industry to receive a huge financial blow.

By destroying buildings and homes,  inlander Kerry Cowan said: “Everyone is in such desperate need for fuel and water. They’re all getting so low on everything now.”


Colombia landslide: Rescue teams race to reach survivors

Case: After a deadly landslide in Columbia, more than 1000 soldiers, policemen, and rescue workers are searching survivors after more than 200 people died on Saturday. The cause of this landslide was heavy rainfall in the city of Mocoa. The army said in a statement that in addition to the 200 dead there were also more than 400 injured.  There are conflicting reports however, as the local media report 300 dead while the red cross reports 200 dead. The Colombian air force is working on getting supplies into the area to help survivors. There is a real issue because power lines have been cut and so has water, and local residents have reported that they have resorted to drinking rainwater.

Analysis: Heavy rainfall was the cause of this deadly landslide. More than a third of the regions monthly rainfall occurred in one evening. This caused the river to burst its banks and over-saturated the soil, causing it to liquefy and flow, leading to the landslide. To make maters worse, the debris flow was so fast that it carried many heavy objects with it, including lorries, which likely lead to a higher death toll. The heaviest rainfall was also during the night, which likely lead to the death toll being higher, as people were asleep when the flows hit their homes.


Conclusion: This area is known for having heavy rainfall, and in the last few months it, and surrounding regions had landslides. For example, just a month ago, in the town of Medellin, less than 500 km away, 9 people were killed by a landslide. Furthermore, as I reported in another of my posts, Peru which neighbors Columbia, had its own heavy rainfall and devastating landslides. Knowing all this, Columbia should have been much  better prepared for this. They saw what happened in Peru just a few weeks ago and should have evacuated residents close to the river and built flood defenses if they could. Furthermore there is quite a lack of communication and as the BBC reports, its hard to get verified reports as rescue operations have only really now begun in earnest. Another grave concern is that residents are resorting to drinking rain water, the government should have provided residents with water purifiers or water purification tablets, which literally cost less than a dollar a piece, and would save lives.  Finally, the fact that the air force has to bring in supplies shows that the town itself has no emergency supplies stored.

Michael Mumenthaler