Colombia – Thousands Affected by Floods and Landslides

Officials in Colombia report that over 30,000 people have been affected by floods and landslides across the country over the past 2 weeks. Three people have died and 5 were injured. Around 8 houses were destroyed and at least 2,500 damaged.

Floods in La Virginia municipality of Risaralda Department, Colombia. Photo: Government of Risaralda

The worst of the flooding was in La Virginia municipality of Risaralda Department. On 18 May 2021, Civil Defence reported 800 homes were damaged and 4,000 people affected after the Risaralda and Cauca rivers broke their banks. As of 18 May the Cauca at La Virginia stood at 5.34 metres, which is above orange (2nd of 3) alert level. Areas of Santuario, Dosquebradas and Balboa municipalities also suffered flooding during this time. The government of Risaralda declared an emergency on 19 May and in a statement said that around 20,000 people from 5,000 families were affected and 510 people were staying in shelters in La Virginia.

In Meta Department almost 5,400 people have been affected and 1,100 homes damaged by flooding in various municipalities. On 10 May 2,500 people were affected by floods in Puerto Lleras. During the following days flooding struck in Cabuyaro and Puerto López. The Meta river at Puerto Lopez was above Red (highest) alert levels at 8.73 metres. On 18 May flooding affected 1,000 residents of El Castillo and 150 in Fuente De Oro.

Also on 18 May, flooding struck in Lloró municipality of Chocó Department, affecting 1,650 people, and in Viterbo municipality in Caldas, where 625 people were affected.

Other significant flooding was reported in Orocué in Casanare Department on 13 May; San José Del Guaviare in Guaviare Department on 16 May; La Montañita in Caquetá Department on 17 May; and La Pintada in Antioquia Department on 18 May. Increased levels of the Cauca and San Juan rivers in Antioquia have caused further flooding over the last 2 days, in particular in Venecia, Salgar and Concordia municipalities.

Civil Defence reported 2 people died in a landslide in Bolívar municipality in Cauca Department on 07 May 2021. A third fatality was reported after a landslide in Cucutilla, Norte de Santander, on the same day.

Three Rivers at Red Alert

According to Colombia’s Instituto de Hidrología, Meteorología y Estudios Ambientales (IDEAM), as 0f 21 May 2021, rivers were at the highest alert levels (Red Alert) in 3 locations: the Cauca river at San Jacinto Del Cauca, Bolivar Department; the Magdalena River at Port Nare in Antioquia; and the Meta river at Puerto Lopez in Meta.

Rivers were at Orange (second level) alert in 6 locations and at Yellow Level in 5 locations.

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