Today, Alex Davis and I toured the countryside and I received a first hand view of the damage. The debris, water, and mud for the most part have been cleaned up, but the severe slide areas still scar the beautiful countryside. The “orange tongues” of the clay that lay below the beautiful green surface shows where the earth gave way and swept dozens of families, over 1,000 people, to their clay tombs.
I’ve had been told stories that will stay with me for a long time…. Families were buried alive in their cars as they tried to outrun the rains and mudslides… entire homes were swept away in the early hours of the morning as the rains kept coming… sections of Favelas built into the sides of the hills and mountains that frame this city are now missing. You really can’t drive anywhere and not see the huge “Orange Tongues” that ripped through this beautiful region. As Alex drove me through the region, the car was pretty quiet other than the “stories” that Alex would share with me as we hit pocket after pocket of earth that gave way to the rains.
You can clearly see from these pictures, there is really no governing body, zoning, building codes or anything like what we are accustomed to here in the United States… even just to put in a patio in your backyard you need a signoff from the Pope to lay a slab of cement in most areas of this country. Well, that’s a whole other conversation…
As we drove and I saw the over building of one home on top of another….I had to catch myself a few times saying “Well, Geez, what did you expect! Look how the hell you are building here”………and then I quickly came back around that I needed to view their lives and their “world” through their eyes and the opportunities….or lack of opportunities that they have.
It was clear in a lot of these cases that the 3 basics of Food, Shelter and Water were a daily struggle in most of these people’s lives.