Ecuador (MNN) — Flooding caused by massive rainfall in Ecuador has left thousands homeless and is responsible for killing more than 20 people. Christians are reaching out to help physically and spiritually. The outreach efforts are also having another effect.
Hermann Schirmacher with HCJB Global-Hands is on the ground in Babahoyo. "Heavy rains since mid-January have led to severe flooding in 13 provinces of Ecuador. The floods so far have killed about 20 people and affected more than 300,000 others. The President, Rafael Correa, declared a state of emergency." More than 13, 000 people are living in temporary shelters.
Mudslides and flooding have collapsed bridges, cutting off transportation routes to areas hardest hit. HCJB Global medical teams from both of their hospitals are teaming up with Samaritan's Purse, Mission Aviation Fellowship, and others to provide relief.
According to Schirmacher there's a lot of work to do. "Right now, I'm in Babahoyo, with a medical team of seven people — nurses and doctors — attending every day hundreds of people who were affected by the flood. We have also started a radio campaign with local churches and several other local organizations to raise funds and food for these people."
Schirmacher says this disaster is unifying the Ecuadorian church, and Christians are "donating food and money. Volunteers and pastors from all kinds of churches are working very, very closely together. I haven't seen something similar in the area before. It is amazing."
They're also sharing the Gospel.
As the work continues, funding is needed, says Schirmacher. "We hope to get more funds not only to cover food, we also need funds to cover medicines. It is incredible: the national hospitals almost have no medicines. So we bring our own medicines to help the people here because if we didn't have the medicine, there would be nothing for us to do."
Schirmacher believes the situation will get worse before it gets better. "We are still in the middle of the season where we get a lot of rain which can last up to April. The water just raised 20 centimeters just today. And if it keeps raining like that, it will flood more areas that are not affected right now."