Flood Victims in Majagua Denounce Cuban Government’s Mismanagement of a Dam

The heavy rains left by tropical storm Eta caused the Majagua River to overflow, leaving heavy flooding.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 13 November 2020 — After the waters fell in the Ciego de Ávila municipality of Majagua it seemed that the worst had passed, but no. Wednesday and Thursday arrived and all people could do was put what little had survived the floods out in the sun, the mattresses, the furniture, the clothes, and to make an inventory of everything that the water took away.

The heavy rains left by tropical storm Eta caused the river of the same name to overflow, and the waters advanced to the nearby areas, leaving floods that surprised many residents in that municipality halfway between the cities of Ciego de Ávila and Sancti Spíritus.

“Luckily we are alive but it was terrible, like an avalanche of water. That had never happened before like this; even with hurricane Flora I did not see something like that,” a resident who has lived in the town since the 1950s tells this newspaper.

“What happened was, they opened the Plan Plátano dam because was full and the water flowed out uncontrollably and covered everything. We have family that helps us but there are many people who are alone and it is not easy to find oneself without anything and to have no place to turn around,” he added.

He added that the neighborhoods of La Sierra and Los Rusos were the most affected. “Here we are used to floods but not of this magnitude, the ones that I have experienced, I can say that the water has reached my ankles and this time it has covered entire houses.”

Some people put their possessions in high places, but taking as a reference their previous experiences. “I put down some bricks and put some of my things up on them and even so, the mattresses and suitcases with my clothes got soaked. I could only save the small appliances because there wasn’t even time to raise the refrigerator,” commented a young woman this morning as she was putting her clothes out in the sun and looking at the two mattresses she had brought out to doorway.

She said that some of the houses that were in higher areas, where the water normally never reaches, saw their patios totally submerged.

Juan Carlos Calvo Vidal, who knows the area well, insists that this flood is the fault of a dam that is at the source of the river, it is “a loose dam,” he said.

“The authorities said no, but all those affected know that it was like that,” he reported in a comment he left in one of the publications that were posted on Facebook to detail the several houses that were totally submerged.

According to his testimony, the river, which already had a high water level as a result of the rains, released “suddenly, in a matter of 15 or 20 minutes, an avalanche similar to a tsunami.”

“The government is helping all these people, but the disaster is so immense that it will take them some time to solve it,” adds Calvo Vidal.

“In minutes, people lost their houses, personal items, their dreams, their stories, their comforts, customs, experiences. (…) I only hope that the Government destroys that dam or builds it as it should be. Today it was houses and material objects, tomorrow it could be people and people cannot be recovered,” he said.

The authorities insist that several preventive measures were taken to avoid the loss of human life and material things and evacuated 2,308 people, the majority to the homes of friends and relatives. They also list the 1,740 head of large livestock and other small livestock that were saved.

According to official data, a total of 45 homes were affected, four of them with total collapses and 24 partial. One of the houses suffered the total loss of its roof while a dozen partially lost roofs and two buildings registered damage to their waterproofing, according to Ernesto Linares Ojeda, vice president of the Municipal Defense Council of the town.


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