Almost 500 families in Santiago del Estero Province have been affected by severe flooding this weekend. The Dulce and Utis rivers overflowed yesterday, cutting off many families who have had to receive supplies by helicopter and boat.
The problem is due to overflowing water from the Frontal de Las Termas dam, which is located between the provinces of Tucumán and Santiago del Estero. Heavy rain in recent weeks has filled up the river basin behind the dam, subsequently causing the Dulce and Utis rivers, which lie below it, to overflow. The worst-affected areas within Santiago del Estero Province are Quebrachos, Mitre, Salavina and Aguirre.
Speaking to Télam, Mario Guzmán from The Civil Defense explained that the heavy rainfall in Tucumán Province meant that the “dam could not hold the water building up, which had risen to almost 800 cubic meters.” Supplies including perishable goods, medicine, mattresses, blankets, shoes, bottled water and insect repellent have been transported to the worst-affected areas, in some places by helicopter and boat, due to the high water levels. However, Guzmán added, “the water level has fallen in the last few hours.”
This is not the first time that flooding has caused misery across Northern Argentina within the last year. Since July 2015, storms caused by the weather patterns of El Niño have wreaked havoc across Argentina and the rest of the world. El Niño refers to a periodic warming in the sea-surface temperature of the Pacific Ocean along the equator which is caused by a change in the wind direction. This can have a massive impact on weather patterns, and typically lasts for up to a year, which is why some areas are still suffering from heavy rain and flooding.
So far, over 16,000 people in six Argentine provinces have been affected and last month, Emilio Renda, Secretary of Civil Protection and The Board of Emergencies and Catastrophes, estimated that between 120,000 and 130,000 people could eventually be evacuated from their homes.
For more information on the infamous El Niño, click here.