This year, Peru experienced heavy rains. We average two to three inches of rain per year on the north coast; not surprising as it is a desert. Since January 1, Piura province has had 25 inches of rain. Most storms dumped 1-2 inches of rain per hour while the worst storms dumped 5 inches per hour. (Global Precipitation Measurement mission of NASA) Rains in the interior were equally strong and resulted in massive floods and numerous landslides down river. In late January, landslides blocked the Pan-American highway, which is the supply route to the north of the country from Lima. By March, the highway was cut off in Trujillo and Chiclayo.
Yes, it was bad!
We live outside of the village of El Ñuro, which is within jurisdiction of the town of Los Organos. The paved road ends at the pier in Ñuro and our home is three kilometers further on via a dirt road. The soil has a high clay content so when it rains it becomes a sloppy slippery mess, often impassable after even a half inch of rain. It usually dries out sufficiently with a day of sunshine. Normally we have one or two days during the rainy season (January-April) when we can’t drive into town. This year was different. Rains began in December and have continued into April. In mid-February, the road to our house became impassable due to landslides and wash outs.
On the 8th of February, heavy rains flooded the quebrada next to our property and threatened to flood buildings below. The photo is taken from our home. The quebrada normally drained out to the beach through a 10 foot diameter drainage pipe under the road. However, a year ago, the pipe collapsed and the resulting hole had been filled with rocks and dirt.
Yes, that’s Doug in the hole left after the pipe’s collapse.
The owners of the property below needed to reopen the drainage to prevent further flooding. They did so, and thus left a gully across the road. We were able to get our pick-up on the far side so we could still get in to town and back. It meant we had to pack stuff up to the house on foot, but it was do-able.
We left for a trip to the states on the 18th of February and returned on the 26th of March. We missed the majority of the storms, but certainly experienced the aftermath.
We were unable to drive home as the road between Ñuro and the road to the house was destroyed.
Even walking was problematic.
We had to walk home along the beach carrying our luggage from our trip. Thank heavens for Juana and Sanchez who came to help…. Stormy too. This walk was a bit surreal…. it was so quiet and amidst all the destruction, there were thousands of little red crabs scurrying along the beach. In its own way, it was all very beautiful. Certainly the usually brown hills surrounding this area looked more like a jungle without the forest.
Even through all of this, we felt fortunate. Our home survived with minimal damage. Many throughout Peru had lost their homes. Our biggest issue was getting access to clean water. We live completely off the grid. Power is supplied by solar panels. Water is delivered to us by trucks which fill our cistern. With the road destroyed, trucks weren’t going to be able to get to us. More on this next.