Northern Chile Floods

Publication date: Mar 28, 2015
TSF and UNDAC supported the Government of Chile following floods in the Northern Region from 28th March to 10th April 2015.

On 25th March 2015, the Chilean government declared a state of natural disaster following flooding and mudslides that devastated part of the arid northern region. Torrential rains caused overflowing rivers, which had been drained for years, flooding the surrounding villages. Thousands of people had to find shelter on roofs to avoid being swept away.

In the most affected areas of Atacama, Antofagasta, and Coquimbo, many roads were totally impassable. The disaster caused power cuts and disruption of communication services, isolating people and slowing the flow of relief supplies.

On 4th April, the official toll reported 25 dead, 125 missing and nearly 30,000 victims.

In coordination with the National Emergency Office of the Chilean Ministry of the Interior (ONEMI), the United Nations Disaster Assessment Coordination (UNDAC) requested the support of the TSF Americas regional base on 27th March.

The aim was to support the government in its emergency response in the most affected areas accessible only by air.

Upon arrival in the field, TSF participated in the first coordination meeting with ONEMI and UNDAC to organise the response. Three UNDAC teams were divided between the coordination centre in Santiago and two others performing assessments in the Atacama and Antofagasta regions, each accompanied by a TSF member.

Telecommunications play a key role in humanitarian response, providing enhanced in needs assessment, coordination and reporting. Thanks to its technical expertise, our team provided solutions for information gathering and data analysis via Kobo digital forms on digital tablets. TSF was responsible for all computer equipment (GPS, tablets, printers), by configuring and maintaining to ensure the efficient conduct of the mission.

Satellite connectivity facilities were set up to allow the submission of assessment reports from those isolated areas where the terrestrial network was unstable, to the UNDAC coordination centre.

With experience in digital data collection, TSF provided training to UNDAC to help them optimise these tools and to apply best practices for analysing and processing the data collected.

TSF also provided priority calls to a few people who lost their phone in the floods and could not contact their families for several days.