CALI, Colombia – Authorities in the southwestern Colombian city of Cali on Thursday declared a “public calamity” due to the rise in the Cauca River, which has flooded at least 900 homes.
“With this decree, we’re hoping to move our own resources and manage national government aid with the aim of assisting the affected people,” the local Risk Management secretary, Rodrigo Zamorano, told reporters.
The decision was taken due to the fact that recent rains have raised the water level in the country’s second most important freshwater source – the Cauca River – as it passes through the Jarillon sector.
According to Zamorano, the winter rainy season has left “1,415 families with property damage” in the sectors of Puerto Nuevo, La Playita, Playita Renaciente, Playita Puerto Mallarino, Navarro, Brisas del Cauca and Floralia.
He said that the Cauca River has been at very high levels over the past week, reaching a flow rate of “1,150 cubic meters (about 304,000 gallons) per second, like today.”
On his visit to the areas affected by the rain, Cali Mayor Maurice Armitage said that the local government “is going to buy the built-up lands near the Cauca River” with an eye toward having people move out of higher-risk zones.
Meanwhile, the Risk Management official for Valle del Cauca province, of which Cali is the capital, Diana Marcela Navarro, said that the rains have caused emergencies in 25 municipalities in the region, of which “13 are affected by the high levels of the Cauca River.”