If you thought the rain was bad in Buenos Aires this weekend, think again. Residents of Comodoro Rivadavia, in Argentina’s Chubut province, had more to complain about than spending a whole five minutes rifling around for an umbrella.
Comodoro was temporarily cut off from the rest of the country yesterday when Ruta 3, the only highway that provides access to the city, collapsed due to the vicious storms. Thousands of families have been left homeless or without drinking water and, to make matters worse, members of the Peronist youth movement La Cámpora have caused upset in the area after posing for selfies in the midst of the devastation.
Although the rainfall died down earlier in the weekend, subsequent catastrophes showed little sign of stopping. Over 250,000 residents were left without drinking water for days in various neighborhoods in Comodoro as a result of ruptures at aqueducts, with Rada Tilly and Caleta Olivia hit particularly hard. At least 8,000 people have had to be evacuated from the zone and many more have been sheltering in schools and other public buildings, unable to enter their homes for the mud.
Yesterday, the situation deteriorated further, though, when the city became completely isolated from the rest of the country, as the northbound and southbound access routes were temporarily blocked. A 5 meter deep and 4 meter wide rift appeared on Ruta 3, about 20 kilometers from Garayalde, north of Comodoro, when the concrete, weakened by continuous heavy downpour, split under the weight of a truck. Fortunately, the driver of the truck suffered only minor injuries and, less than 24 hours later, President Mauricio Macri announced on his Facebook page that the road had been restored and supplies were being transported into the city by road once more.
Now, shovels and spades in hand, many residents and volunteers are working tirelessly to remove the meters of mud that cover roads, gardens, cars and, in some cases, entire houses. The army has continued to carry out rescue missions, with over 2,000 families stranded and left homeless. Some residents are apparently refusing to leave their homes despite the vast destruction, however, for fear of having their homes looted in their absence and losing the little they have left.
According to Infobae, the city’s mayor Carlos Linares has thanked the security forces for their help and stressed the “solidarity” of the residents of Comodoro, who have worked together continuously to assist those most affected by the storms. Over the weekend, the governor of the province of Chubut, Mario Las Neves, also announced that they had raised “from 10 to 20 million pesos”, while extending the “state of emergency” to the whole area of Chubut.
However, although the city has seen a huge amount of support locally and nationally, some volunteers were not so warmly welcomed by residents. Among the thousands evacuated from Comodoro Rivadavia were members of the Peronist youth movement La Cámpora, which is headed up by Cristina Kirchner’s son, Máximo, after angry residents yelled at them and kicked them out of one of the most affected areas. The reason? They were posing next to backhoe loaders (the trucks used to remove massive amounts of mud) for selfies, wearing their Campora hoodies and carrying shovels. In the video, which went viral on Sunday afternoon, you can hear them saying “Take off that hoodie and put on some overalls!” “Stop breaking our balls!” and “Get some actual work done!”
Although it will take quite some time for the area to return to normality, it seems like progress it now being made little by little. Yesterday, the national government sent a Hercules Air Force plane with five tons of food and other resources for the victims in the city of Chubut, and President Macri himself announced plans for loans for victims in the affected areas.