Nevado del Ruiz has erupted several times since the disaster, and continues to threaten up to 500,000 people living along the Combeima, Chinchina, Coello-Toche, and Guali river valleys. A lahar (or group of lahars) similar in size to the 1985 event could potentially travel as far as 100 kilometers (62 mi) from the volcano, and could be triggered by a small eruption. A larger eruption could reach as far as Bogotá. To counter this threat, the Colombian government established a specialized office which promotes awareness of natural threats. The United States Geological Survey also created the Volcano Disaster Assistance Program and the Volcano Crisis Assistance Team, which evacuated roughly 75,000 people from the area around Mount Pinatubo before its 1991 eruption. In 1988, three years after the eruption, Dr. Stanley Williams of Louisiana State University stated that, "With the possible exception of Mount St. Helens in the state of Washington, no other volcano in the Western Hemisphere is being watched so elaborately" as Nevado del Ruiz. Additionally, many of Colombia's cities have programs to raise awareness of natural disaster planning programs which have helped save lives in natural disasters. Near Nevado del Ruiz in particular, locals have become wary of volcanic activity: when the volcano erupted in 1989, more than 2,300 people living around it were evacuated.
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