Tim Vile shares his reflections on visiting some of the worst affected areas.
'We flew 600 miles north of the Peruvian capital, Lima, to reach the flooded area.
The small town of Catacaos is very close to the river and has been flooded by about a metre of water several times now. The low lying flat land means the water doesn’t run off easily and the strong sun has turned dirt roads into muddy quagmires.
Houses are also full of the thick mud. Many houses built from less substantial materials have simply been destroyed.
We saw people still very much in the early effects of a disaster. None of the hustle of usual daily life. There is a pervasive smell of congealing river mud and stagnant water.
The only dry area is the embanked main road. I met a family who are living on the verge, which is only about 2 metres wide at best. Without shelter from the sun or rain they try to live, eat and sleep on this narrow strip sandwiched between busy traffic and stagnant, stinking water. They have had to kill two snakes so far and feared there would be more. With genuine tears they told me they had not had drinking water for some days but the tankers were now starting to deliver.
We also assessed a rural area called San Pablo where some Peruvian Civil Defence emergency tents are being deployed. People here are mostly farmers who have had their homes and crops destroyed by the water surges. More people are arriving everyday, walking across the fields to seek help.
As a person who spent over 34 years in the Fire Service, I encountered people in crisis many times. But I still find the imploring looks of desperate people the strongest motivator to continue volunteering for ShelterBox.'