The heavy rainfalls that spurrred state of emergency calls in Venezuela and northern Colombia, have caused a canal that connects the coastal city of Cartagena with the Magdalena river to rupture and submerge half of the state of Atlántico in Colombia under close to 80 million cubic meters of water (0.0191930207 cubic miles or 2.82517334 × 10⁹ cubic feet).
To understand the extent of the disaster, every week that the Canal remains ruptured is approximately equivalent to dumping the entire volume of St. Clair, one of the Great Lakes, on the region. It is estimated that even after the rupture is repaired, homes in the area will stay submerged for at least two to four months.
Due in part to the government’s quick response, as well as the relative low density of population in the area the amount of casualties and injured people has been minimal.
The social repercussions however, are dramatic and massive: more than a hundred thousand people have had to leave their homes, and the loss of food crops alone exceeds $200 million dollars. It is estimated that reconstruction efforts in the area will cost twice that amount, putting the disaster in northern Colombia on the same scale as the horrific disaster hurricane Katrina was in this country.
More than 80 schools in the area have become shelters, and despite the fact that support in donations is ample, the area struggles, since more than 11 hospitals are completely submerged underwater, and in several parts of the country there is a complete collapse of public services.
Authorities hope to have the the canal fixed by Christmas, with collaboration from a team of engineers from the US Army Corp of Engineers.