On March 18th, 2017 the Traveller Assist, Disaster Assistance Response Team arrived in Lima, Peru in response to the worst floods & landslides in the region in living memory. More than 100 people were killed, and 210,00 homes were destroyed. The country took a big hit. Over 260 bridges had collapsed and nearly 3,000km of roadways were deemed unusable.
As our team arrived at Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima, it was chaos. Thousands of people were trying to leave, as the first of the rescue teams were starting to arrive in the country. There was no running water in the city of Lima which affected almost 200,000 travellers, staying in hotels, hostels and airbnb's, not to mention how it affected the estimated population of 9-million people in Lima.
Grocery stores were completely sold out of water, with line-ups forming up and down every aisle, and out of the door, waiting for the next delivery. Water was limited to one 5-litre bottle per family. As rescue teams started to reach the hardest hit areas, some local people were so desperate that aid companies were reporting being robbed, not for valuables, but for food and water.
Traveller Assist set-up at the airport in Lima, acting as liaison for travellers on behalf of travel insurance companies, travel agencies and corporate clients. Within 36-hours of arrival in the country, all of the travellers our team had set out to locate were accounted for.
On March 20, 2017, Traveller Assist were called upon to locate and evacuate a group of eight gap-year students. The group were volunteering with rescue efforts after the floods in Peru, but became stranded themselves, without water, food or shelter.
A journey by road that would typically take 2-hours, took almost 8-hours to reach the students. The roads were treacherous, and it continued to rain causing parts of the road to washout. By the time the team reached the students, it was 14:00hrs. Heavier rain was forecast, so the decision was made to drive back to Lima on the same day, knowing that part of the journey would be made at night, in pitch black.
The team arrived in Lima at midnight, with only one minor injury to a team member after changing a flat tire. All of the students were safe, with no injuries, and they were given the opportunity to call home.