December 19, 2014
Floods force 3,000 evacuations in 8 provinces
Neuquén is the worst-hit by the storms and cancels classes, public services amid chaos
Around 3,000 people have been evacuated due to the heavy rains and subsequent flooding that has taken place in eight provinces across the country since Saturday, leading to the suspension of classes, public transport and public services in some of the worst-affected districts.
The southern Neuquén and Río Negro provinces, the central-northern Córdoba, Santa Fe and Entre Ríos provinces, and Mendoza, Catamarca, Santiago del Estero in the northwest of the country have borne the brunt of the three-day storm with flooded streets, blocked highways and a widespread human impact, including the destruction of homes.
Neuquén yesterday suffered some of the most dramatic consequences, as classes were suspended, public transport was halted and civil servants were given the day off. Supermarkets in the capital also closed their doors.
Around 118 millimetres of rain had fallen across the province in 24 hours, just short of half the annual total. Seven hundred people were evacuated from the provincial capital, Neuquén City, and another 600 in smaller towns throughout the usually arid Patagonian province.
Neuquén’s Cabinet, Security and Transport Coordination Minister, Gabriel Gastaminza, gave further details about the number of evacuees and the precise location of the worst-affected areas: 270 from Plottier district, 125 from China Muerta, 80 from Añelo, 80 from Rincón de los Sauces and 50 in Senillosa.
The province had received steady rain for the last few days, but was hit severely yesterday by a downpour that lasted from early in the morning to midday.
The national government yesterday ordered the dispatch of military personnel to Neuquén province, as well as to Catamarca province, where 400 people had been evacuated by Sunday afternoon.
President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner yesterday expressed her “solidarity and support” with the people of Neuquén following this week’s heavy rains, Lieutenant-Governor of Neuquén Ana Pechén told reporters.
Pechén said she had received calls “from the President, from Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich and from Social Development Minister Alicia Kirchner.”
The official said she is in permanent communication with Governor Jorge Sapag, who is on an official visit to the United States.
Also on the task, were provincial border guards from Neuquén and Santiago del Estero, in their respective provinces, who assisted in delivering medical supplies and communications equipment.
South of Neuquén, in Río Negro province around 200 people had been evacuated from localities in its valleys, south central region and coastline, including Cipolletti (which is directly connected to the capital of Neuquén) and nearby General Roca, where media had reported that several families had chosen to abandon their homes.
The province was yesterday suffering widespread cuts to electricity and drinking-water.
Heavy impact in the north
By Sunday afternoon, it was known that a total of around 600 people had been evacuated from the Catamarca district of Bañado de Ovanta; Villa La Punta and Lavalle districts in Santiago del Estero province; the María Luisa and Sauce Montrull districts in Entre Ríos province; and Las Varillas district in Córdoba province.
However, yesterday the extent of the weekend storms, much like the storm itself, seemed to have spread.
Farther afield in Entre Ríos, more than 100 families had been evacuated from their homes in the capital, Paraná, after strong rains and winds that lasted since Saturday, the Paraná City Social Development Secretariat announced.
Twelve suburbs in the capital had been hit heavily, leading to fallen trees and light-poles, broken roofs and the flooding of homes, it said.
Also in Entre Ríos, the city of Vera saw 40 people evacuated from their homes, while in San Cristóbal and Coronda districts the figure rose to 80 and 42, respectively.
The total number of evacuees in Entre Ríos by press time was 300 people.
In the central province of Córdoba a total of 200 people had been rescued from their homes. With Civil Defence reporting over 200 millimetres of rain had fallen in 24 hours, the worst-affected towns were Obispo Trejo, Las Varillas and Morteros.
Mendoza province was also affected, with 30 people evacuated from the Valle de Uco district.
The director of the province’s Civil Defence unit, Roberto Abogrado, told the press yesterday that homes had been damaged and low-income neighbourhoods badly affected by the heavy rains.
The National Meteorological Service is reporting that rains will continue until tomorrow.
Herald with AP, Télam