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.

There have been some crazy weather-related things happening here recently. You may recall that I mentioned some “huaicos” (mudslides) a couple weeks ago when we went into Pucusana for dinner. I said that there’s been a lot of rain in the highlands, and as a result, the water levels in the rivers are much higher than they usually are at this time of year. The problem with Pucusana is that the “dried up” river bed that used to serve as an escape path was developed, so the water can’t drain that way anymore. Also, when it re-filled with water, it did damage to the buildings that were built in the river bed, as you might expect. Since the water can’t drain, it overflowed over the road that leads into Pucusana, and I’m not even sure if it’s all cleaned up yet, two weeks later.

A couple of Pucusana throwbacks.. Yes, there is a street underneath that water.

Good thing those light posts are there to show us where the street is supposed to be…

Now, things are getting even crazier. Yesterday, the Chilca River overflowed, flooded parts of Chilca, and ran over the Pan-American! That’s the biggest highway here, and it’s more than just a Peruvian highway. It’s so long that it runs from Canada, through the USA, Mexico, and Central America, to South America where it runs mostly down the western coast to Chile and has a branch that runs into Argentina. There’s an impassable gap between Central and South America, but it’s still an amazing roadway. The point is, this isn’t just some little, 4 lane road. It’s a big deal! And the river flowed over and blocked it! They managed to re-route traffic around the flooding, but the fact that it even happened is blowing everyone’s minds. This isn’t normal.
To make things even more ridiculous, there were MORE huaicos today, north of us. That’s moving into Lima, so now we’re not even talking about the little town of Chilca. This is the capital city! To give you an idea of the craziness of today, we had three people on staff who went up to Lima today, all to do different things. The first person to head home made it with no trouble. The second person, leaving not long after the first, got past the location of huaico #1 before it hit but got stuck behind huaico #2. The third person got completely stuck in Lima, trapped behind both huaicos.

The guy who was stuck in the middle had to just sit in traffic until they figured things out. He said things were a bit chaotic, as one would guess. There are dead animals in the water, and he has videos of people working to save pigs that got stuck. Everyone is so thrown off that I’m not even sure that anyone knows what to do to fix it all.

We’re located in the desert, and since I’ve been here, it has rained probably more than 10 times, and with actual raindrops. The first time it happened, everyone told me that it NEVER rains during the summer, and when it does, it’s more of a mist. Well, it looks like that’s not the case this year. So just think… if we’re getting all of this “never happens” rain, the highlands must be getting dumped on.

To make things even more dramatic, we haven’t been getting water over the last couple weeks. Normally, the water in the town is only turned on at very specific times. They email out a schedule of when there will be water, and we have to turn on our water pump at the scheduled times so that our water tanks get filled as much as possible before it shuts off again. Recently, the water has been off with no word about the schedule, and today we found out that it’s because the well has gotten flooded by the river waters. I don’t know how it all works exactly, but with the way that it’s currently set up, the water can’t be turned back on until the flood goes down. There’s a way to update the well so this won’t happen again, but in order to do the work, the ground has to be dry. So they’re estimating that the water won’t come back on for a few months! We can get water delivered by a water truck, but it definitely makes you think… where’s the water truck getting its water? And what if the same thing happens there that happened to our neighborhood well? Craziness.