Flood Recovery Response Underway to Help the Poor

In March, unusually heavy rains brought flooding and catastrophic mudslides to areas of Peru surrounding the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s mission in Chimbote. And while the government sprang into action quickly to repair roads, water sanitation facilities and other infrastructure, the poorest residents of Chimbote who are served by our mission are in need of our help to recover from their losses.

Mudslides Cause Extensive Damage to Homes and Towns

The damage was most severe to the north of Chimbote according to Dominican Sister Lillian Bockheim, OP, who has served for more than 50 years at the Center for Social Works (COS). The flooding and mudslides washed away homes, farmland and cattle. Many roads and bridges were also damaged, leaving communities isolated until help arrived. Sister Lillian herself was stranded in Lima for over a week because bridges on the Pan American highway along the coast were damaged.

The Chimbote region is a coastal desert, and normally receives only one-half inch of rain per year. Most homes are not constructed to withstand heavy rain. Fortunately, the COS mission buildings were constructed with reinforced roofs.

Only one building at the mission — Padre Julio Children’s Center and Shelter — suffered water damage. The COS staff showed great dedication and stayed through all the torrential rains and clean up. As a result, the Center was able to stay open and provide medical services without interruption.

While the buildings at COS were mostly spared, that’s not the case for many of our neighbors living in Chimbote. “All 138 of our personnel have had some kind of damage to their homes, mostly due to leaky roofs and some flood damage to furniture,” said Sister Lillian.

Several blocks in the Villa Maria sector of Chimbote were severely affected by the torrential rain. “It destroyed their homes and they lost everything due to mudslides,” Sister Lillian explained. “The people living in the barrios in houses of woven reeds had considerable damage to the roofs and suffered the loss of the few belongings they own.”

Our Flood Recovery Response Needs Your Support

The Chimbote Foundation and COS leaders in Chimbote are working together to address some of the most urgent needs of the poor. Initially, they have engaged a trusted local contractor to rebuild as many as ten homes in the worst-hit areas of the barrios to help those who lost everything. In addition, as funds become available, smaller grants will be targeted to assist those with thatched roof and wall damage.

Donations to date total $17,000 from concerned Mission Partners and from the Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids (the religious community of Sisters Lillian and Margaret Mary).

“Reconstructing and repairing will be slow and long on the numerous homes in the barrios damaged by the rains,” Sister Lillian said. “We are here to help them in any way we can. The Chimbotanos have a wonderful spirit of hope.”

Make Your Gift Go Twice as Far!

Help match a new gift of $5,000 from one anonymous donor family.

How can you help? First, please join us in praying for everyone who is affected by this disaster.

Next, please consider making a gift today. An anonymous current donor to The Chimbote Foundation is offering an additional gift to encourage as much as $5,000 in NEW donations to assist even more of our poor neighbors with their flood recovery.

You may make a tax-deductible gift online by using this link. Or, you can send a check via U.S. mail to The Chimbote Foundation, Inc. c/o Diocese of Pittsburgh, 111 Boulevard of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. (Mark your check restricted for March flood recovery assistance.)

Be comforted knowing that 100% of your gift will be used by the COS mission teams where it will have the greatest impact. No fundraising expenses will be subtracted.

Thank you, and God bless you! Gracias, y Dios te Bendiga!

Photos from the Flood Recovery

(click to enlarge)

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