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I’m a geographer and this is how a flood could happen again

May 3 marks thirty-one years since alluvium occurred in the Quebrada de Macul, disaster that affected the foothills area of ​​the commune of Santiago, between the communes of La Florida and Peñalolén.

This event left thousands of homes damaged, in addition to 26 dead people, Therefore, it is important to highlight that to date there have been several advances to reduce the risk of disaster in the face of this threat. Among them, it is possible to highlight the construction of settling pools and the incorporation of areas restricted to urban development in the Territorial Planning of the commune of Macul. However, we still have work to do.

Although and considering Climate Change, The projections establish a decrease in rainfall in the central zone of Chile, In any case, precipitation can increase and be intense in short periods of time, which adds to the increase in temperature. That is to say, It will rain more and more in areas where snow usually fallsleaving latent the threat of alluvium in the mountainous areas and their surroundings.

In this sense, the risk of disaster is outside the door, if the constant urbanization of the foothills of Santiago continues and due to the presence of informal settlementsas is the case of “Camp Dignidad”.

In this regard, we must be aware that the Santiago foothills is exposed to multiple natural and climatic threats, Therefore, geographical and environmental education is of great importance.

Municipalities, NGOs, Schools, Research Centers and Neighborhood Associations must train and develop workshops and actions so that the inhabitants of the foothills know the natural threats in their environment and from there, they are better prepared. by promoting an emergency kit, for example, in homes, generating evacuation plans (at the family, neighborhood and school level), appropriate training around the Emergency Alert System (SAE) and maintaining care for the environment, cleaning streams and preserving the sclerophyllous forest.

Photo: Agency One

As an example, in the Research Center for Integrated Disaster Risk Management (Cigiden) we have the platform “GeoHUB Maipo Basin” and we will launch the audiovisual series “The Risk Route”, both initiatives aimed at ensuring that the inhabitants of the foothills of Santiago and the general public become better aware of the natural threats in their environment and can be better prepared for disaster risk.

Avoiding a new flood disaster like the one in 1993 depends on everyone.

Simón Inzunza, geographer of Cigiden.

*Simón Inzunza is a UC geographer and researcher at the Research Center for Integrated Disaster Risk Management (Cigiden).

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