Colombia – Heavy Rain Triggers Floods and Landslides in Northern Departments

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) recently reported that over 260,000 people have been affected by heavy rain, flooding or landslides in Colombia since mid-September and the start of the second rainy season.

Rainfall intensified across northern departments of the country from 13 November, influenced by the passage of Hurricane Iota and by the development of La Niña conditions, OCHA said.

The Islands of San Andrés and Providencia were directly affected by Hurricane Iota on 16 November. Around 80% of homes on the island of Providencia have been damaged or destroyed.

Floods in Magdalena Department, 15 November 2020. Photo: OGERD Magdalena

In a period 13 to 19 November, Colombia’s Civil Defence reported flooding or landslides in 14 departments, including Bolivar, Antioquia, Norte de Santander, Atlántico, Cundinamarca, Sucre, Chocó, Magdalena and La Guajira.

The department of Bolivar is among the worst hit, in particular the municipality of Cartegena, but also Turbaco, San Pablo and Santa Rosa. Flooding and landslides were reported from 14 November, affecting almost 70,000 across the department, Civil Defence said.

In Antioquia, at least 4 people died and 67 homes were destroyed after a massive landslide in Dabeiba that struck on 13 November. Just days earlier, 1 person was injured and 4 homes damaged after a landslide in San Luis.

Fatalities were reported in Norte de Santander department, where flooding previously struck in early November. Since then, flooding has damaged over 150 homes and affected 1,415 people in the municipality of Cúcuta, where 2 fatalities were reported.

In Atlántico Department, flooding damaged 500 homes across 7 municipalities, mostly in Malambo, while flooding struck Nemocón in Cundinamarca from around 13 November, affecting 2,400 people.

Around the same time heavy rain and floods affected over 6,500 people and damaged 1,500 homes in 5 municipalities in Sucre Department. In Chocó, almost 1,700 people were affected by floods in Lloró.

The flood situation continues in Magdalena Department, which initially reported flooding in late October. According to recent figures from Civil Defence, a total of 4,242 homes have been damaged, 2 destroyed and 22,205 people affected in 7 municipalities including the hardest hit Ciénaga and Santa Bárbara De Pinto.

OCHA reports severe flooding in Maicao in La Guajira Department has affected 46,000 people since early November. The overflowing Tapias river has put over 56,000 people in Uribia municipality at risk of food shortages.