Argentina: Floods DREF No. MDRAR009 Final Report

Situation Report
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A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

On 4 August 2015 ARC headquarters began monitoring the situation caused by intense storms in much of central and north-eastern Argentina. On 5 August the National Emergency and Disaster Response Directorate started monitoring the situation caused by rains and intense storms in Buenos Aires. This monitoring continued through the end of August.

On 10 August heavy rains caused the overflow of rivers, streams, and watersheds, leading to floods in the municipalities of Luján, San Antonio de Areco, Campana, Salto, Chacabuco, Chivilcoy, Pilar, Mar del Plata, Quilmes, La Plata, Berisso, Zárate, Mercedes, San Andrés, Santos Lugares, Pergamino, Junín, Pila, Arrecifes, and Venado Tuerto. On August 15, flooding from the Salado River affected nearby towns such as Villanueva, Lezama, and Dolores, among others, forcing the evacuation of 6,184 people and the self-evacuation of 5,500 others. According to Buenos Aires Civil Defence, this emergency affected more than 50,000 people in the province of Buenos Aires.

Evacuees were housed in shelters set up in schools, universities, and health centres. These emergency shelters were managed by municipalities, which provided a place to sleep, food, restrooms, water sources, and security. The Argentine Red Cross supported this process in Lujan. Campana, Pilar, and Lujan were the most affected locations, with flash floods in Lujan lasting for more than 10 days. Other municipalities received greater assistance, although not always with the coordination required.

On 5 and 6 August, heavy rains fell on Luján which caused Luján River levels to rise but causing no damage. Up until that moment the situation remained under control; however, river levels were already one metre above normal when another intense storm hit on 9 August, triggering the alert.

A red alert was issued on 10 August as floods began to occur in several locations, causing damage to livelihoods (work tools of self-employed masons, painters, etc.), homes, health, and water conditions. Three evacuation centres were opened in Luján - housing more than 600 families for 10 days - as well as three health care posts in different districts. The ARC assisted in coordinating one of them (for 60 people) and in two others (180 people) conducted recreational and psychosocial support (PSS) actions. Shelters were set up in most of the affected areas to house the people whose homes had become uninhabitable.

Weather conditions improved considerably after 14 August, and people started making arrangements to return to their homes as water levels started to gradually recede. Currently all affected people in Luján, Salto, Pilar, and Mercedes have returned home, but authorities and communities remain on alert to reports of the El Niño phenomenon.

On 23 August the national media reported that the district of General Viamonte in northern Buenos Aires was being flooded by the overflow from the Salado River, affecting some 160,000 hectares of land. The ARC began response in Villanueva with PSS and first aid assistance for more than 50 families (approximately 1,300 persons) who had remained cut off after the river had increased in width by more than 9 kilometres. This response operation ended on 2 September.

At the time of the drafting of this report, the emergency is over and communities have resumed their normal activities.

The Argentine Red Cross continues conducting everyday activities in the communities in which it normally works.