Colombia Delivers 2nd LAN Hit
Latin America North Sustains Another Tragedy
Rocked by a 6.0 magnitude earthquake, central Colombia struggles to recover from the devastation the temblor inflicted. More than 7,000 were killed or injured, and over 250,000 left homeless.
According to Latin America North Territorial Commander Colonel Robin Forsyth, Salvation Army personnel went into action immediately after the earthquake hit. Three Salvation Army teams were working in the cities of Armenia and Pereira initially; now, one team is providing relief in Armenia, the city hardest hit.
Getting there was challenging. “The roads were blocked (from earthquake-inflicted damage), and the teams had difficulty entering the cities due to the looting and the fact that areas were cordoned off by the local authorities,” Forsyth stated.
According to Captain Sergio Acevedo, Colombia and Venezuela Division, the Army has provided more than 14,800 meals, vaccinated over 2,800 people, supplied tents to 84 families, and provided blankets or mattresses to 120, assisting more than 38,000.
The Army has no presence in Armenia or Pereira, but does have an active corps and community center in Ibague, some 40 miles away, where it runs a feeding program and after-school programs for children. The facilities suffered little damage, but homes belonging to some older corps and home league members were badly damaged. Forsyth anticipates the Army will be assisting in rebuilding efforts for approximately the next six to nine months.
The earthquake is the second natural disaster to hit the Latin America North Territory in recent months. Last fall, Hurricane Mitch slammed into Central America, causing millions of dollars in damage and killing thousands. The Salvation Army has provided significant assistance to victims in Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador, and continues ongoing recovery efforts. The Army is looking into establishing a micro-enterprise program to help people reestablish their livelihoods. “We are stretched to the limit,” said Forsyth.