Hurricane Maria Aftermath: Six Things You’ve Probably Forgotten about Puerto Rico but Shouldn’t

By: Carlos Carrazana

In September of 2017, Hurricane Maria, the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in 90 years tore across the island, packing winds over 150 miles per hour. As is often the case these days, attention has moved on to other crises at home and abroad, but we must not forget Puerto Rico. In mid-April , after months of slow progress, the island completely lost power again. And for the American families still without basic services and the children who have collectively lost out on millions of full school days, the hurricane is still a daily reality.

Hurricane Maria aftermath
Shown here more than a week after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in September 2017, local resident Isamar said her 8-year-old son was still nervous about the storm. Photo credit: Rebecca Zilenziger

Here are six things you’ve probably forgotten about Hurricane Maria and Puerto Rico but shouldn’t.

  1. People were vulnerable before the storm. Nearly half of people on the island were living below the poverty level. The rising cost of goods, housing, and power was leading people to leave. The Pew Research Center reports that between 2005 and 2015, nearly 500,000 people left the island. A 2016 report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found 56% of children in Puerto Rico in poverty and 36% in extreme poverty.
  1. Life is Not Back to Normal in Puerto Rico Today. Even before April’s massive blackout, 10% of the island remained without power and for more than 50% of households in some rural and mountainous regions, power has yet to be restored. Frequent blackouts across the island cause residents to relive the immediate effects of the hurricane long after it has passed. Some families still do not have clean drinking water or reliable sanitation systems. Because conditions on the island remain bad, more than 20,000 students have left the island and lost days, weeks and in some cases months of learning. Tens of thousands of houses still have tarp roofs.
  1. Schools in Puerto Rico are not fully operational. Today, some schools are still unable to operate on a full day schedule because they lack reliable power, which influences a wide variety of services like sanitation pumps, the cafeteria and learning. This is unacceptable and considerably slower than it took to reopen schools in Texas and Florida after Hurricanes Harvey and Hurricane Irma. In addition to regaining power, it is imperative that the government develop a stronger plan to help children make up for lost learning and improve the quality of education on the island.
  1. As physical damage continues to be repaired, emotional wounds need attention too. Catastrophic natural disasters often cause people to witness wide-scale destruction, be torn from routine and normalcy, and sometimes even experience the loss of a loved one. At this point, black-outs serve to quickly remind people, and in particular, children, of the trauma they experienced. Psychological support is needed for parents, teachers, principals and caretakers in addition to the island’s children.
  1. Puerto Ricans are resilient and want to rebuild. I grew up in Puerto Rico. And in my multiple trips to the island over the past months, I have met countless people who are working as fast as they can to rebuild what was lost and build back their communities even better than they were before. That includes Alexandra and her brother, who I met in one of our child-friendly spaces while their parents worked to salvage all they had lost. The determination of their family to make Puerto Rico home again was motivating, and I know we can do better for the island.
  1. The next storm could be here sooner than we think. Now is the time to plan for what could be another active season. Save the Children will be working on emergency preparedness with the schools we support but a wider government plan must urgently be put into place.
Hurricane Maria aftermath
Carlos Carrazana, Chief Operating Officer of Save the Children, visits with children playing in a Community Based Children’s Activity (CBCA) site in Orocovis, Puerto Rico, in the fall of 2017. Photo credit: Rebecca Zilenziger

History will judge how American citizens and the government aided Puerto Rico not only in the immediate aftermath of the storm but also in the long-term recovery. There have been amazing stories of people helping one another and Puerto Ricans showing their strength and resiliency but simply put, more should have been done and more must be done. Puerto Ricans urgently need reliable, functioning power, and Congress should allocate more funding that puts children’s education and recovery needs front and center. And we all must resolve not to forget our fellow Americans who are still suffering seven months after Hurricane Maria.

Carlos Carrazana is the chief operating officer and executive vice president of Save the Children. Learn more about Save the Children’s Hurricane Maria response at savethechildren.org/Hurricane-Maria

Prep Rally Brings Community Together to Keep Kids Safe

Elizabeth-pulliam headshot

Elizabeth Pulliam, Program Specialist

Kentucky

October 7, 2014

 

Lightning strikes as an instantaneous thunderclap bursts around your house. You begin to wonder if the batteries in your flashlight are working or if yesterday’s grocery purchases will spoil before the power is restored. You see, your child is calm and knows exactly where to find the flashlight. These are behaviors she learned from Save the Children’s Prep Rally program– new emergency program that teaches kids basic preparedness skills through interactive activities and games.

Tucked into the heart of Appalachia, Owsley County, Kentucky is a very rural area with disaster risks covering everything from flooding and tornadoes to wildfires and earthquakes. Children are the most vulnerable during disaster, and as a nation, we are underprepared to protect them during emergencies. Twenty-one states lack basic regulations for protecting children in schools and child care and 74 percent of parents don’t feel very prepared to protect their kids. The Prep Rally Program was created with the understanding – that we can’t prevent disasters from happening, but it’s how we prepare for them that will make the difference.

Owsley County community leaders, including school staff, emergency services, first responders and government officials, banded together to plan a Prep Rally that would help children in Owsley Elementary School’s Afterschool program be ready to weather any storm. Photo Aug 28, 3 18 38 PM

The Prep Rally covers four basic Prep Steps that help build children’s resilience: 

  1. Recognizing Risks
  2. Planning Ahead
  3. Gathering Wise Supplies
  4. During Disaster

During after-school programming in the week leading up to their Prep Rally, Owsley students read books about preparedness and survival as part of their literacy lessons. They discussed the risks for natural disasters in their community and learned how to design a safety plan at home and how to reunite with their families should disaster strike.

On the day of the community Prep Rally event, the children kicked things off with a Get Ready Get Safe cheers and the Mayor of Booneville declared it Get Ready Get Safe Emergency Preparedness Day! The mayor also led the Preparedness Pledge, encouraging the children to talk with and make a plan with their families. Then children rotated through five themed stations including the Pillowcase Project, Red Cross coping skills, fire safety, tornado safety and water safety. Children were able to talk with local firefighters and police as well as climb aboard and explore fire truck and emergency medical helicopter.

“The students became more familiar with the types of disasters and how to be better prepared to cope with them,” said Phyllis Bowman, Owsley’s afterschool program coordinator. “Even though we are a small community with limited resources, the response from our emergency people was great. This is indicative of their support of our children."

1055In addition to getting kids pumped to prep, the community Prep Rally created a dialogue between schools to work with emergency services agencies, and government officials about how to best prepare and protect Owsley County.

“The Prep Rally provided the children of Owsley County a valuable educational experience with the emergency services and preparedness personnel in our area,” said Bart Patton, Chief of the Booneville-Owsley County Volunteer Fire Department. “It encouraged the children to go home and prepare, along with their parents and guardians, plans to help them through disasters safely. We were all proud to be part of the program.”

The Owsley Elementary event is just one example of a successful Prep Rally- which has been implemented in 10 states serving thousands of children and families. The best part of the Prep Rally curriculum is that it can be shaped to fit the specific needs of your community—whether it’s a scout troop, afterschool, summer camp, or the beginning of tornado season.

Is Your Community Prepared to Protect Kids in Emergencies?

Get the FREE downloadable Prep Rally Kit: www.savethechildren.org/PrepRally

And register your Community Prep Rally for the chance for Save the Children ambassador Lassie to visit your event!

For more information, email GetReady@savechildren.org

Bringing Relief in the Wake of Typhoon Bopha

Anonymous manNorman
Gagarin, 
Water Sanitation and Hygiene Program Officer

Mindanao, Philippines

December 5, 2012


 While the residents of Mindanao were still
fast asleep Tuesday morning, Typhoon Bopha approached the southeastern coastline
of the Philippines, packing 130mph of wind and heavy rain. The powerful winds
and rain were unlike anything I had ever seen before.

ETH_0409_92599Despite being a much stronger typhoon than
Typhoon Washi, which killed more than 1,200 people– most of them children -last
December,the fact that people were vigilant made all the difference in this
storm.The day before it hit, I watched as the people of Mindanao prepared for
the arrival of Typhoon Bopha, or Pablo as it is known locally. Families stocked
up on food, water and other essential supplies in stores while others packed up
their most precious belongings and headed off to evacuation centres all over
the island. This is stark contrast from the scene last year, where many failed
to heed warnings from authorities to evacuate.

“I’m happy that my parents brought my
siblings and me here before the storm,” a child at an evacuation centre in
Cagayan de Oro told me. “We feel safe here from the storm.” Cagayan de Oro was
one of the worst-hit cities in Mindanao after Typhoon Washi. Many children
displayed signs of distress following that disaster and required psychosocial
support from the government and aid agencies like Save the Children.

RS48117_Picture1[1]Indeed, it is a relief to see that both
children and adults were more vigilant ahead of this typhoon, the worst storm
to hit the Philippines this year. Mindanao does not experience typhoons often,
and as a result, the residents here are less prepared than others.

Still, immediate relief like food, water,
medicine and other household items are needed.Water, sanitation and hygiene, or
WASH, is my area of expertise and we know that water supplies may be
contaminated, and with large swathes of
Mindanao flooded and without electricity, assessing the extent of the damage and
bringing water trucks to evacuation centres will be tricky for the authorities
and aid agencies alike.

Click to donate to our Philippines Annual Monsoon and Typhoon Children in Emergency Fund.

Save
the Children has been working in the Philippines since 1981 and has decades of
experience responding to emergencies in the Philippines. We have mounted
large-scale emergency responses to Typhoon Washi in 2011 and Typhoon Ketsana in
2009.

MVPs of Hurricane Sandy Relief are the Volunteers


StevewellsSteve Wells, 
– Emergencies Logistics Manager

Atlantic City, New Jersey 

November 13, 2012


The Superstorm’s force was like a 300 pound NFL linebacker
tackling a high school cheerleader.  That’s when we called in our relief
lineup – a crew of Save the Children volunteers dedicated to helping kids
affected by natural disasters.

The first to arrive were teams from Church Communities
International. They literally did a lot of the heavy lifting. Hauling boxes of
kid-friendly supplies all over affected areas of New Jersey, they loaded boxes
of relief items such as baby shampoo, diapers, blankets, books – and footballs!
Yes, footballs.

Matthieu and Ken made a great team. Credit_Pe CrumpKids in shelters lack healthy exercise and fun. That’s why a
key part of our work is the Child-Friendly Space program – a safe place where
kids can be kids. Our volunteers also helped staff the Child-Friendly Spaces.
These trained, caring adults create an environment where kids can work through
difficult emotions as a result of the storm and increase their ability
to “bounce back”.

Matthieu was one of the older kids in the Child-Friendly
Space. He picked up a football from the toy box and began tossing it like he
was looking for a pick-up game. That’s when a bunch of the volunteers had the
great idea to rally the kids for a game of catch. It went on for quite a while,
but the kids said the time flew by. “This was the best day ever,” said
Matthieu, out of breath from play.

Later that night, some of the volunteers were told they were
rotating out – a new crew was coming in to tackle the work. When he heard the
news he would be leaving, one young man who had been playing ball looked down
at the table. When I turned to see his face, he wiped away tears. Having felt
that way before, we all knew he was going to miss the wonderful kids.

I want to use this blog post to thank all of our volunteers,
truly some of the most valuable players in emergency response.

If you want to volunteer for Save the Children, please check
out our volunteer opportunities online
.

Hopefully, Matthieu will soon be back to playing ball
in his own backyard. Kids like Matthieu need caring people to support Save the
Children’s long termresponse efforts.
Please give generously to our 
Hurricane Sandy Relief fund.

Helping Children Cope With Emotional Distress After Hurricane Sandy

PcrumpPenny Crump – Web Writer/Editor

Bronx, NY 

November 11, 2012

 


Hurricane Sandy took almost everything from Marisol. Fleeing her home with little more than clothes on her back, she waited out the storm at the safety of her Aunt’s house. Her mom, Rachel, stayed behind to protect their meager belongings from looters in a very rough neighborhood in New York.

Rachel had been told that they would be safe in their fourth floor apartment. But the winds and rain proved too much for their rundownbuilding.

The roof collapsed around her, destroying most of their belongings and killing Marisol’s little kitten.

Marisol-rachel“I haven’t told Marisol about her kitten yet, she’s been through too much already,” said Rachel. “I’m relieved she was at her Aunt’s when it happened.”

I spoke with many other families like Mariol’swho lived in apartments that have been condemned due to storm damage. They have no place to go home to – crowded shelters are their only refuge until temporary housing programs get fully up and running.

It’s in these shelters that Save the Children offers our Child-Friendly Spaces program. It gives girls and boys a safe area where they can play, have fun and express themselves under the supervision of caring, trained adults. It helpskids build self-esteem, work through difficult emotions and increase their ability to “bounce back”. 

Rachel was relieved to see Marisol having fun with the other children in our program. “I am just overwhelmed to see my daughter playing and happy again,” she said while choking back tears.

I told her, “It’s ok, we’ll get through this together”.

Hopefully, Marisol will feel safe and secure again soon. Kids like Marisol need caring people to support Save the Children’s response efforts. Please give generously to our Hurricane Sandy Relief fund.

Health Concerns Rise as Children Remain in Shelters After Hurricane Sandy


Pcrump
Penny Crump – Web Writer/Editor

Atlantic City, New Jersey 

November 5, 2012


In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy with temperatures
dropping, Save the Children rushed to deliver blankets and other cold-weather
supplies to Hurricane Sandy survivors.

One of the children we’ve been helping is 4-year-old Didi. While Didi got an imaginary
“check-up” from her older cousin “Dr. Kelly” at our Child-Friendly Space,
other children needed real-life medical attention at the shelter. With everyone
staying in close quarters, exhausted from the upheaval and a nor’easter on the
way, conditions are primed for kids to catch colds – or worse.

R110212_SANDY___8_107553

To help keep children warm, we’re sending cozy onesies,
jammies, hats and mittens.

Save the Children is also delivering educational materials
to our Child-Friendly Spaces to help reinforce healthy hygiene, the best line
of defense against diseases. Things like hand-washing and eating healthy snacks
can help kids fight colds, and promotes healthy behaviors in the future.

What’s more, we’re providing parents with the supplies they
need to help keep kids clean and healthy, such as diapers, nutritious snacks
and hygiene supplies.

Hopefully,
Didi will be able to go home to a safe, warm home soon. Kids like Didi need
caring people to support Save the Children’s response efforts. Please give
generously to our
 Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund.

There's No Place Like Home


PcrumpPenny Crump, Web Writer/Editor

New Jersey, USA

November 4, 2012


After meeting
Kelly at a Hurricane Sandy shelter in North Jersey, I thought I’d never see her
again as she got onto a bus headed back home. I was happy she’d be able to sleep
in her own bed. She’d hopefully find her home intact, including her beloved
stuffed monkey named Rosy who got left behind when her family was evacuated.

I was playing tea
party with some little girls in our Child-Friendly Space, when I heard a familiar
voice. It was Kelly! She called out to her little cousin Didi age 2, who was
delicately eating an imaginary cupcake at our party. Peals of delight filled my
ears, as they made that squealing noise in a register that only little girls
can produce.

Didi-2-kelly-8-releasedKelly seemed in
good spirits, but my heart went out to her knowing that she would be staying in
a shelter once again. She told me that after they left the shelter where we
met, they tried to go home.
Their modest apartment was unharmed by the
storm, but the heat still wasn’t working.  Kelly dashed through the
apartment to her closet, where she found Rosy! They tried to sleep in their own
beds, but it was just too cold. After the storm, the temperature dropped
dramatically — it was in the 30s with wicked winds. Her parents decided take
Kelly and her little brothers to an economy motel for the night and return to a
shelter until their heat comes back on. With a nor’easter coming, warmth is all
the more important.

Knowing Save the
Children would be at the shelter with toys, her mom, Natividad decided it would
be best to travel light and leave Rosy safe at home. Kelly was ok with that and
held tight to Didi.

Not soon after
she arrived, Kelly made fast friends with two other little girls. They had so
much energy to burn off having been cooped up in shelters for nearly a week.
With all four of us holding hands, we went skipping around the shelter singing
“We’re Off to See the Wizard”. There really is no place like home, but we're
thankful we can help kids make the best of it while they're here at the
shelter!

Kids like Kelly
and Didi need caring people to support Save the Children’s response efforts.
Please give generously to our Hurricane Sandy Relief fund.

Being there, staying there


StevewellsSteve Wells,
– Emergencies Logistics Manager

Atlantic City, New Jersey 

November 4, 2012


Things change.  Everything
from changes in the weather to the addition or loss of a family member, we’ve
all experienced how changes both big and small canshape our lives.

Emergency situations also change, frequently and often with
little advance warning.In the past two days, our Hurricane Sandy response team
has seen many of the children and families residing in New Jersey and New York community
shelterson the move again. They’re gathering the few belongings they can carry
on their backsand loading packed busesen route to longer-term mega shelters.

This progression is not unusual, as it means that the
families are a step closer to returning home. But more moving means more change
for kids. And many changes, especially in an unfamiliar situation, can take a
toll on children, who rely on the familiar to feel safe and secure.

Save the Children wants to help provide children with a
sense of familiarity through structuredactivities in our Child-Friendly Spaces,
and when the kids move, we move with them.

Yesterday, we met Dayvon, an exuberant 6-year-old who sang
while he colored pictures of his friends on a large banner in our Child-Friendly
Space in northern New Jersey.  Although
he made new friends at the shelter, he sorely missed his friends from home
saying, “I really hope that they are okay. I don’t know where they are.”

During our scheduled Child-Friendly Space time, Dayvon’s
shelter got the call to close down and transport its residents to a larger
shelter where the populations of a dozen smaller shelters would be
consolidated. When Dayvon’s mom returned to space to tell him it was time to
leave, Dayvon started to cry. He didn’t want to move again, he didn’t want to
leave his new friends and the familiar faces of the Save the Children staff.  Eventually, his mom was able to calm him and
we gave him the banner the children had colored together.  Before he walked out the door, he peeked over
his shoulder and said “see you later,” which melted our hearts, as we didn’t
know where Dayvon and his mother were headed,or if we would see him later.

Our team quickly identified the new shelter sites and
mobilized our staff to set up Child-Friendly Spaces in the new locations.  We drove 2-3 hours, worked with shelter
management and by the time we were carrying activity kits in the door, a dozen
buses were offloading  and in the shuffle
we heard a cheerful , “Hey!” It was Dayvon and his mother, Dayvon still
clinging to the poster we had made together hundreds of miles and several hours
before.

That moment was truly the highlight of Save the Children’s
response thus far. Seeing Dayvon’s beaming, toothy smile and knowing that we’re
helping give these kids a sense of consistency and normalcy despite their constantly
changing circumstances. In the new shelter we’ve seen many of the children we
worked with previously at smaller shelters and, for each one of the kids, it’s
a happy reunion.  And that’s what it’s
all about — not just being there when the disaster hits, but staying there and
ensuring children and families have the resources they need to cope with
disaster and rebuild their lives.

There are still
thousands of families living in shelters unable to storm-ravaged home and we
plan to stick with them, even when the media cameras have left and public
attention is diverted.Thank you for your support and following us through the
Hurricane Sandy response.

 Please give generously to our Hurricane Sandy Relief fund or Text
HURRICANE to 20222 to donate $10 to Hurricane Sandy Relief from your
mobile phone. When you receive a text message, reply YES. (Standard text
messaging rates apply.) Read the fine print.

Keeping Expectant Mothers and Children Protected during Wildfires

DeMarrais picJeanne-Aimee De Marrais, Advisor, Domestic Emergencies, Save the Children

Washington, D.C.

June 28, 2012


Wildfires continue to wreak havoc in Colorado, forcing more than 32,000 people to evacuate their homes, and destroying over 15,000 acres of land, according to this report by Reuters.

Of the thousands of families uprooted by the Colorado fires, or during any disaster for that matter, pregnant women and children are often the most vulnerable. That’s why Save the Children is releasing the following two-partguidance—a combination of tips from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and our own disaster preparedness experts—tohelp expectant mothers and families with young children stay safe and protected during the Colorado wildfires or any fire emergency. 

Tips for expectant mothers and parents with young children facing evacuation

  • Be prepared to evacuate quickly and have important items (such as copies of medical records and medications) ready to go— you may not have much time.
  • When checking into a shelter or temporary housing, alert the staff if you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant.
  • If pregnant, seek prenatal care even if it is not with your usual provider. 
  • Make sure health care providers at the shelter know about any special needs or health problems that you or your child have, or any medicines you might be taking (both over the counter and prescription.)
  • If you don’t have your infant’s medicine with you, ask health care providers at the shelter for assistance in getting it.
  • Make sure your baby gets plenty of breast milk or formula, and you drink enough water.
  • Pregnant women and children should stay indoors, if possible, to keep from Avoid breathing smoke or fumes, rest often and stay indoors if possible.
  • If you’re pregnant, rest often and get plenty of water.

 (Guidelines derived from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. To see the complete guidance–Wildfires: Information for Pregnant Women and Parents of Young Infants–please visit http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/Emergency/WildFires.htm)

For more information on how to keep you and your children safe during a wildfire, visit the website of the Center for Disease and Control Prevention.

General fire safety tips for families

Save the Children wishes to remind parents, teachers, and caregivers about the importance of child fire safety. About 80 percent of all fire-related deaths and injuries occur in the home, and young children are at a particularly high risk. They may not understand the danger or may not be able to escape. Children under the age of 5 account for almost half of all home fire victims. Children in the poorest homes face the greatest risk of death. Every family member should know exactly what to do in case of a fire emergency. Precious seconds can be lost when someone can’t find a way out in the dark or does not know how to release a window lock. Having a family fire safety plan and practicing it will save lives.

Here are some tips for keeping families safe. For further guidance specific to your community, contact your local fire department.

  • Talk to children about fire safety. Children accidentally set many of the fires that harm them. Teach children not to play with matches and lighters. If they see matches or lighters within reach, teach them not to touch but go tell a grown up right away.
  • Teach children the DON’T HIDE, GO OUTSIDE rule in the event of a fire. Fires are scary, but they should NEVER hide in closets or under beds when there is a fire.
  • To escape during a fire, teach children to FALL & CRAWL. It is easier to breath in a fire if you stay low while getting out. Use the back of your hand to test if a door is hot before you open it. If it is hot, try to use another way out.
  • Practice STOP, DROP and ROLL: If clothes catch on fire, don’t run.  Stop where you are, drop to the ground and roll your body back and forth until the fire is out.  Running makes the fire burn faster.
  • Teach children to never go back into a burning building for any reason.  If someone is missing, tell a firefighter.
  • Make a family fire plan and practice it. The plan should include identifying two exits from each room and marking an outside meeting place. Practice escaping by both exits to be sure windows are not stuck and screens can be quickly taken out.
  • Make sure street signs and address numbers are easily visible so fire trucks and emergency responders can find where they need to be.
  • Teach children what a fire alarm sounds like and make sure that it will effectively wake them in the middle of the night.
  • Ensure smoke detectors are installed on every floor and in the sleeping areas of your home, and that batteries are changed twice per year. Carbon Monoxide detectors are also recommended. Test these alarms to make sure they can effectively wake family members.
  • If there are security bars or locks on doors, make sure all family members know how to release them.  All family members should be able to escape from the second floor.
  • Know your local emergency number. Put stickers and magnets with emergency numbers on your refrigerator and every telephone in the house.

Parents should also take steps to learn about their child’s school or child care fire safety plan, as part of an overall emergency plan. They should also ensure that any family friends have evacuation plans in case a child spends the night elsewhere.

Philippines Flooding Endangers Thousands of Children

Anna Lindenfors

Anna Lindenfors, Philippines Country Director

Manila, Philippines

December 19, 2011


It must have been terrifying. Flash floods create a fast moving body of water, sweeping away everything in its path. Cars, trees, people.

Yesterday morning (night-time in the Philippines) very heavy rainfall caused rivers to burst their banks and flood the area – killing hundreds and leaving thousands more stranded, without food or shelter, in the middle of the night.

Save the Children’s team on the ground launched into action immediately – assessing the damage on the most vulnerable children and their families.

Travelling along the highway you can see bodies lined up – waiting to be identified. Of the hundreds of dead, there are only a few injured. This is not unusual in a flood. Very few people caught up in the path of a flash flood will survive. Most of the dead were children, again not a surprise. Children are smaller, lighter and less likely to know where to go in an emergency. Those that survived will be cold, exhausted and terrified. Some will have been separated from their parents in the chaos.

Several of Save the Children’s team are coping with personal tragedy while responding to the flooding. One tells me their family didn’t survive intact. The debris of a destroyed house fell on top of a relative, killing her. Another tells me that water levels are so high their home is completely uninhabitable. They are worried about electrocution, so can’t return home. Yet another reports that they have run out of coffins in the town, and he doesn’t know what will happen.

The team carries on anyway, urgently struggling through debris and floodwater to reach the victims of the crisis. Several had been on the phone through the night, trying to comfort those stranded on rooftops of houses. 

The next few days are critical. Children are always the most vulnerable during emergencies – and in the aftermath. Stagnant water and tainted supplies can cause disease. Longer term children will face hunger and malnutrition – in a country where 30% of the population already live beneath the poverty line, lost food stocks and lost income can push families over the brink.

50,000 children have been caught up in the flash flooding, and we’re working around the clock to reach vulnerable children and adults before it is too late. Please help us.

Save the Children is launching an emergency response to help victims of the flooding. Our experts are on the ground to distribute drinking water and essential items to families affected by the disaster.