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Argentina: Floods in Buenos Aires Leave 35 Dead

The heavy rains that hit the province of Buenos Aires have left at least 35 people dead [es] and thousands homeless.

The blog EA2CPG tells us [es] about the climate phenomenon which hit Argentina on April 2, 2013, coinciding with the Veteran's Day and the Falklands War Memorial public holidays [es]:

La ciudad de Buenos Aires tiene unos tres millones de habitantes. Más de un 10% de la población ha sido afectada directamente por las últimas lluvias, las más dañinas de los últimos 107 años, de acuerdo con las autoridades. La Reina del Plata se pareció en la madrugada del martes a Venecia y necesitará muchos días para retomar la normalidad.

The city of Buenos Aires has around three million inhabitants. More than 10% of the population has been directly affected by the recent rains, the most damaging in the last 107 years, according to the authorities. In the early hours of Tuesday morning La Reina del Plata looked like Venice and will need several days to return to normal.

Popckorn, [es] a blog about mobile culture in Buenos Aires, publishes citizens’ images [es] of some of the neighbourhoods affected by the heavy rains. Meanwhile the YouTube user informeya shares this video of the floods:

In the post “#Temporal: Relatos de la Catástrofe” [es] (“Storm: Stories of the Catastrophe”), the Anfibia [es] magazine, among images of the tragedy, also publishes some testimonies that victims published on Facebook, like that of musician Gabo Ferro:

La colección de discos de Gardel de mi viejo flotando entre los míos y los de mis amigos. La casa levantada sobre una correntada. Entre la somnolencia de la madrugada, el asombro y la impotencia. Sacar el agua y tragar saliva. Seis horas sacando agua. En su casa, mi vieja eligiendo entre sus cosas guardadas durante 79 años que tirar y que secar para salvar. Una vecina triste como un fantasma pues el agua le arrebató una foto; lo único que le quedaba de su hijo.

My father's Gardel record collection floats among mine and those of my friends. The house is carried by a current. In the sleepiness of the early hours, the shock and the powerlessness. Draining the water, and gulping. Six hours draining water. In her house, my mum chooses among things she has kept for 79 years: what to throw out and what to dry and save. A neighbour, sad like a ghost because the water snatched a photo; the only thing she had left of her son.

These are not the first floods [es] that the province of Buenos Aires has suffered. Recurrent damage caused by the rains have prompted Argentine bloggers to debate whether minimal investment in infrastructure, fast-growing real estate, or climate change is to blame for the disaster.

The Facebook [es] page Cátedra Libre del Agua analizes [es] the changes that Buenos Aires has seen since its founding:

Pero por qué se inunda Buenos Aires? Desde su fundación, la ciudad fue creciendo y extendiéndose hacia el conurbano bonaerense. A medida que este crecimiento se encontraba con arroyos que desembocan al Río de la Plata se los entubaba, se rellenaba su cauce y a lotear que se acaba el mundo. La renta urbana es una tentación difícil de evitar. Durante un tiempo estos entubamientos soportaban bien la lluvia, pero a medida que se siguió construyendo la superficie natural absorbente disminuyó y el volumen de agua que comenzó a pasar por allí aumentó. A esto hay que sumarle la desaparición de los pulmones de manzana y su sustitución por cemento, además de la poca pendiente que tenían los arroyos que fueron entubados. Finalmente, están los rellenos sanitarios en la costa del Río de la Plata para ganar superficie con fines inmobiliario que aumentan el largo de los entubamientos hasta llegar al desagüe naturales.

But why does Bueno Aires flood? Since its founding, the city has been growing and expanding towards the Buenos Aires conurbation. As this growth converges with streams that flow into the Río de la Plata, it channels them, the channel gets filled up and it's a lottery as to what happens next. Urban income is a temptation that is difficult to resist. For a while these channels were bearing the rain well, but as construction continued the natural absorbent surface diminished and the volume of water that began to flow through increased. You have to add to this the disappearance of green space and its substitution with cement, as well as the gentle slopes of the streams that were channelled. Finally, you have the landfills that are located on the coast of the Río de la Plata for the purpose of gaining real-estate land, which increase the length of the pipes before they can arrive at their natural drains.

The note continues:

Si después de todo esto Buenos Aires no se inunda, es porque hay sequía. Además, el agua tiene memoria, siempre buscará ir por los mismos lugares que supo ir antaño. Una parte irá por los entubamientos y, el resto, por la superficie. Y así se producirá la inundación, una y otra vez.

If Buenos Aires is not flooded after all this, it is because there is drought. In addition, water has a memory, it will always look to go through the same places that it went through in the past. A portion will go through the pipes, and the rest on the surface. And so flooding will happen again and again.

imagen de @gstreger

image shared by Gustavo Streger (@gstreger) on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's government and the government of the city of Buenos Aires are also searching for culprits. The national news agency Telam [es] publishes declarations [es] from Secretary of Federal Planning, Julio De Vido:

El ministro de Planificación Federal, Julio De Vido, aseguró que “otra vez la falta de gestión” del gobierno de Mauricio Macri “nos lleva a lamentar víctimas fatales, y deja a 450 mil vecinos sin luz” en la Ciudad.

The Secretary of Federal Planning, Julio De Vido, claimed that “again the lack of management” of Mauricio Macri's government “leads us to regret fatalities and leaves 450,000 inhabitants without light” in the city.

On the other hand, Comunas 24.com [es] reports that the chief of government of the city of Buenos Aires, Mauricio Macri, declared [es]:

“Los vecinos de Belgrano me dijeron que en algunos sectores algunas obras parciales que hicimos contribuyeron a mitigar un poco el problema, pero ha habido muchísimo daño y, obviamente, lo que falta es esta obra final en el arroyo Vega, que todavía no hemos podido iniciar por la falta del aval nacional para tomar el crédito” [...] “Yo pienso que la Presidenta debe haber visto lo que pasó ayer y todo lo que sufrió la gente de esa zona, en sus domicilios y en los comercios. Espero que baje una orden que nos habilite para tomar este tipo de crédito”. Macri recordó que hace más de cuatro años que la Ciudad solicita esos avales y aclaró que el crédito, “lo va a pagar la Ciudad integramente.”

“The residents of Belgrano told me that in some sectors some partial works we did contributed to somewhat mitigate the problem, but there has been a lot of damage and, obviously, what is missing is this final work at the Vega stream, that we have not yet been able to start due to the lack of national endorsement to take out a loan” [...] “I think that the President should have seen what happened yesterday and everything that the people of that area suffered in their homes and businesses. I hope a mandate is approved that allows us to take out this kind of loan.” Macri recalled that it was more than four years ago that the City applied for those endorsements and made it clear that the loan, “will be paid for entirely by the City.”

Laura Yabrun (@LambreLau) [es] writes:

@lambrelau: Para no quedar fuera de las circunstancias, CFK [Cristina Fernández de Kirchner] y Macri se lavaron bien las manos #inundaciones #dondeestaCFK #Macri

@lambrelau: CFK [Cristina Fernández de Kirchner] and Macri have completely washed their hands of the situation #inundaciones (floods) #dondeestaCFK (Where is CFK) #Macri

The citizen journalism site Letra Compartida [es] and the news portal Infobae [es] share more images and reports on Storify.

Thumbnail image from Twitter user @JoseIniesta.

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