14ymedio, Havana, 8 January 2018 — Heavy rains and coastal flooding in recent days in Baracoa have caused the collapse of two homes and the isolation of several towns in the province of Guantánamo, as confirmed to 14ymedio by residents of the area.
“As of Thursday it has been raining torrentially and there are strong winds,” Emilio Almaguer, a resident of Baracoa, explained by telephone. The sea has entered the city in the area of the Malecón, “as far as Flor Crombet Street, about two hundred yards from the coast,” he said.
The intense rainfall of recent days also caused the the Macaguanigua, Duaba and Toa rivers to flood, which has isolated the villages of Cayo Güin, Nibujón and Quiviján. The last of these was cut off due to a landslide that buried two houses, although so far there have been no deaths reported.
Almaguer notes that when it rains this hard in Baracoa “everything is flooded” due to the proximity of numerous rivers. “The city is cut off because the bridge over the Toa River was lost when Hurricane Matthew struck in 2016 and has not yet been restored,” he adds.
The authorities had restored the river crossing where the bridge was lost by filling the riverbed with earth and stones, to allow cars and pedestrians to cross. But when the rain is heavy it causes the river to flood over the improvised crossing, according to Amaguer.
He fears that the weather situation will continue to worsen because “today it has rained hard all morning,” and even though it eased up a bit midday, “the cloudiness of the sky suggests it will continue to rain later on,” he added.
The presence of a trough (a low pressure area) and the stationary nature of the current winter season’s fifth cold front over the Paso de los Vientos (Windward Passage) between Cuba and the island of Hispaniola, further complicates the weather patterns in the area.
On Sunday it rained 3.2 inches in Baracoa, according to Raisa Rodríguez Ramírez, one of the specialists of the Forecast Department of the Provincial Meteorological Center, who warned that on Monday the weather conditions would be very similar. In a report from Baracoa it was reported that “the Duaba gravity-fed aqueduct is inoperable” as is the Miel river aquedcut. The note stated that the cause of the suspension in the services was not due to breakages, but “because the waters are cloudy.”
The official press reported that because numerous electric poles have fallen to the ground some customers are without electric service and that at several locations the city “is working on the unblocking of the sewers.”
The people of Baracoa fear that the rains and floods of these days will further damage an area that has not been able to fully recover from the effects on homes in the area as a result of Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, which also damaged facilities related to tourism and productive infrastructure.
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