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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09BOGOTA612
2009-02-24 23:42:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Bogota
Cable title:  

SEVERE FLOODING IN TUMACO AND OTHER COMMUNITIES IN NARIQO,

Tags:   EAID  PGOV  AEMR  ASEC  PHUM  KFLO  CO 
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VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #0612/01 0552342
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 242342Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7335
INFO RUEHSJ/AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE 5339
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 7025
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 7747
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA 3062
						UNCLAS BOGOTA 000612 

DEPARTMENT FOR USAID:LMCKECHNIE, ELANDAU, NKYLOW, JKESSINGER,
TCALLAGHAN, PGELMAN, RCARRILLO, LTREJOS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PGOV AEMR ASEC PHUM KFLO CO

SUBJECT: SEVERE FLOODING IN TUMACO AND OTHER COMMUNITIES IN NARIQO,
COLOMBIA: DECLARATION OF DISASTER



1. SUMMARY: As a result of heavy rains on February 15-16, 2009, the
Mira River overflowed its banks causing severe flooding in the
municipality of Tumaco, Nario. Over 6,000 families were affected
(approximately 31,000 people) resulting in one confirmed death and
22 missing persons. The Chief of Mission has determined that the
disaster is of sufficient magnitude to warrant U.S. Government
assistance. The damage has exceeded the effective capacity of the
Colombian Government to respond, DPAD has indicated they are willing
to accept USG assistance, and it is in the best interest of the USG
to respond immediately. In addition, USAID has also received
requests for assistance from both the municipal government of Tumaco
and the departmental government of Nario. The Chief of Mission is
therefore exercising his Disaster Assistance Authority. END
SUMMARY.



2. Heavy rains on February 15th in the upper reaches of the Mira
River watershed led to a severe flashflood at approximately 4:00
a.m. the following morning in the lower areas of the Mira river -
known as 'Bajo Mira' primarily in the municipality of Tumaco,
Nario. The flood affected 6,250 families (approximately 31,250
persons - 12,000 of which are children) - including one confirmed
death and 22 missing persons. In addition, 1,125 homes have been
destroyed by the flooding and over 1,400 other homes were heavily
damaged. In addition, approximately 20,000 hectares (49,400 acres)
of cash crops (African palm and cacao) and food subsistence crops
(yucca, beans, corn, rice and others) are flooded and likely
destroyed. The GOC's Disaster Response Agency (known as DPAD -
Direccion Nacional para Prevencion Atencion a Disastres) and the
Colombian Red Cross have established 13 shelters that are
temporarily sheltering approximately 14,000 people - leaving 17,000
people still residing in the flooded communities. The rains have
continued intermittently through since February 15.



3. The Municipality of Tumaco declared a state of emergency on
February 16th and put its emergency contingency plan into action.
The response to the crisis thus far has been focused in three areas:
evacuation, establishment of temporary shelters and the distribution
of humanitarian assistance both to the shelters as well as to the
flooded riverine communities. The GOC (DPAD, Civil Defense forces
and support of Colombian and USG-financed military assets such as
helicopters, planes and boats) led the evacuation. The Colombian
Air Force has established an air bridge for delivery of relief
supplies from Bogota. DPAD, and the Colombian Red Cross, along with
UN OCHA and support from the municipality have led the establishment
of temporary shelters and delivery of humanitarian assistance.




4. Embassy Bogota has already contributed assistance to the relief
effort through several U.S. MILGRP minimal cost projects, totaling
$7,000, used primarily to purchase blankets and other non-food
humanitarian relief supplies. U.S. MILGRP also donated needed
medicines and medical supplies, totaling $10,000, which were
delivered Saturday (2/21/09) to the Colombian Red Cross in Tumaco.
Plan Colombia-financed (NAS) air assets and air time played a
crucial role in the evacuation efforts, as well as in the delivery
of humanitarian relief supplies.



5. According to the most recent surveys of affected communities in
the flooded areas, the greatest need continues to be potable water
and sanitation. 63 veredas (townships or rural subsections of a
municipality) were fully flooded and the most are still without
electricity. Six rural water systems within these veredas were also
destroyed. The municipal water system for the urban area of Tumaco
was severely damaged and the water contaminated. Municipal water
service was turned back on in the urban area of Tumaco on February


23. However, service is provided only for two hours a day. As the
flood waters recede, water and sanitation needs and the ensuing
public health concerns will continue to be problematic in the coming
months. Furthermore, due to the flooded crops, when combined with
the collapse of the financial pyramid schemes in the fall of 2008,
the food security situation will become problematic in the coming
months for the residents of Tumaco and other coastal municipalities
of Nario.



6. The COM authority of $50,000 will be used to address the
immediate needs for potable water and sanitation as well as to
purchase and transport non-food humanitarian relief supplies, such
as hygiene and kitchen kits, mattresses and blankets, destined for
the worst hit areas of Tumaco and other coastal municipalities of
Nario. OFDA/LAC is recommending an additional $50,000 for a total
of $100,000. The relief assistance is likely to be channeled
through the Colombian Red Cross. In addition USAID/Colombia is also
considering reprogramming up to an additional $30,000 of IDP funds,
based on continued need, through existing USAID grants. Existing
USAID partners in the area, along with input from the MDRO, are
looking at means to address medium-term food security concerns

through existing grants and contracts.



7. The GOC's Ministry of Interior and Justice issued a National
Disaster Declaration for the Municipality of Tumaco on February 23,


2009.



8. Additional funds and relief supplies may be requested based on
humanitarian gaps identified by the OFDA Regional Advisors and the
MDRO.



9. For additional and ongoing information on the Tumaco floods
please see the following websites:
- GOC/DPAD - http://www.sigpad.gov.co/
- The Colombian Red Cross http://www.cruzrojacolombiana.org
- UN/OCHA Colombia office http://www.colombiassh.org

BROWNFIELD