More than 70,000 people were left homeless and 72 killed in Peru after freak floods devastated parts of the country, prompting action by Waves For Water.
An abnormal El Nino caused an unusual warming of the waters off the coast of Peru, leading to 10-times more rain this season than last. The torrential downpours destroyed crops, swept away bridges and washed out roads. The majority of those impacted are poor, including those who live in makeshifts homes on floodplains that have been dry for the past two decades.
In the wake of this devastation Waves For Water, set up to deliver clean water solutions in disaster impacted countries, has launched a flood relief effort in a bid to save tens of thousands of lives.
Helping with the relief initiative is Peruvian charger Gabriel Villaran. Here is a report from Waves for Water about his involvement as they undergo the complex task of flood relief across the country.
From the onset of the floods in Peru, Gabriel reached out to Waves For Water to offer his assistance in the response. When we first spoke with Gabriel, we knew that he was going to be a tremendous help to the effort. Having never worked with our organisation before, Gabriel proved to be a natural, providing essential information from the ground and, most importantly, understanding what needed to happen during this complex and horrific situation.
Before the Clean Water Corps response team had arrived in Peru, Gabriel had coordinated with a Toyota off-road driving club and one of our Courier program members, Roxanne Genier, to implement a 21-filter response (providing relief to an estimated 2,000 people) in two isolated areas in serious need.
Through that implementation, he was able to connect with different Peruvian government ministries and line up support for a large-scale response. It was simply incredible, and it wasn’t until we had landed and met with Gabriel that we realised how incredible it truly was.
Gabriel Villaran is a professional big wave surfer. Just two months prior to our first meeting, while competing at Pipeline, Gabriel suffered a brutal compound fracture of his tibia. Not two months out of a surgery where doctors inserted a metal rod through the centre of his bone, counter to his doctor’s orders, Gabriel was jumping in off-road vehicles and on military flights to reach ground zero of an ongoing natural disaster.
Each day in which we worked with Gabriel, we witnessed him put his own recovery on hold and selflessly give everything he has to this response. He continues to step up in incredible ways to help his country and fellow Peruvians. He is a natural leader and an inspiration to us all. With Gabriel leading our local team, and much work to do still, I know that we will continue to reach the people who so desperately need clean water.