Lack of Drainage Maintenance Has Aggravated Floods in Matanzas, Cuba

Floods in Jovellanos, in the province of Matanzas. (Girón)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 8 June 2022 — The number of people evacuated in Matanzas due to the rains of recent days continues to grow. This Tuesday, the number already amounted to 5,171 in this province alone. Olga Lidia Ramírez González, secretary of the Provincial Government Protection Commission, told the official press that 4,953 people have been housed in family members’ homes, while the remaining 218 were relocated to state centers.

One of the most affected municipalities is Pedro Betancourt. In the Camilo 1 community, 960 people “self-evacuated” this Tuesday, while another 14 were transferred to a municipal protection center. In this area, over 11 inches of accumulated water was reached in the early hours of Tuesday, according to Reynaldo Báez Hernández, director of Aqueduct and Sewerage, who said that the channel overflowed and caused flooding.

A man from Matanzas pointed out on the networks of the newspaper Girón that the lack of maintenance of the drainage structure in Camilo 1, Camilo 2, La Luisa and Socorro is the cause of the disasters and that, in addition, all of them are affected by the waters that fall in areas of Jovellanos. “When the canals were periodically maintained and cleaned, that did not happen. We must bear in mind that this area is low and the main crop was always rice due to the conditions of the land,” he explains.

The local authorities had to send 15 trucks, two fire trucks, one rescue and salvage vehicle, an ambulance and other means of transportation to attend to the families, while the earth was removed with backhoes so that the water level dropped.

In this municipality alone, in addition, tons of food and grain have been lost, in addition to the death by drowning of four calves and thousands of tons of tobacco that turned moldy due to humidity.

In Jovellanos, where almost 11 inches of water accumulated in the last 24 hours, 379 inhabitants have had to leave their homes and up to 2,480 people have suffered losses. In addition, 562 homes are affected, 120 of them in the Popular Council of Carlos Rojas.

Unión de Reyes, where there have also been torrential rains, although to a lesser extent than in the previous towns (6 inches), 70 houses were flooded and a portal collapsed on Monday, just as a truck carrying students was passing, which, fortunately, was not damaged.

In this province, the Cimarrones dam has greatly exceeded the authorized volume, reaching 184% of its capacity, with 9,306 cubic meters, although the authorities assure that “there is no danger at the moment.”

In a high-level meeting held this Tuesday in Havana, the global material damage was evaluated, in addition to the four lives lost. The Minister of Construction, René Mesa Villafaña, said that 1,219 homes were affected, 90 of them with total collapses and 114 partial, in addition to 108 with total roof loss and 546 partial.

On agriculture, the Minister of Economy. Alejandro Gil Fernández, indicated that there was damage to 4,000 hectares of vegetables, pumpkins, sweet potatoes and cassava, among others. While, in Pinar del Río tobacco there were 443 tons collected with damage and 17.5 lost. “However, the total damage is less than one percent of the leaf preserved in Vueltabajo,” he added.

The president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, asked that the weather situation be followed up, since there is saturation of water in the soil: the last straw for the bad harvests that is being reported in Cuba.

Meteorologists have explained how this situation was reached, after a tropical cyclone converged in the Gulf of Honduras, which was diluted, with Hurricane Agatha that affected Mexico. Both events created instability that ended up leading to several days of rain. Finally, Hurricane Álex unleashed the waterspouts that have flooded the western and central areas of Cuba since Friday.

The worst, announces the Meteorological Center, is that the forecast for the month does not improve: “The large-scale meteorological conditions, especially in the Caribbean Sea, to the south of the Island, remain unstable enough so that some another tropical system, which, if it occurs, will be reported in a timely manner.”


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