The rains, which usually fall at this time of year in the region of Buenos Aires, have been particularly severe in 2003; furthermore, problems of drainage and increasing numbers of people living in precarious housing exacerbate the effects of flooding. As of Monday 10 February, storms and heavy rains hit the region, and over two days, more water fell than the average rainfall for all February. In Buenos Aires, the areas of Palermo, Villa Crespo and Belgrano were most affected. Partidos de la Matanza, Lomas de Zamora, Tres de Febrero and San Martin, Escobar and Pilar were also hit. Storms in Buenos Aires and its outskirts felled trees and caused traffic accidents. In the province of La Rioja, west of the capital, three people died in the violent storms. According to Civil Defence reports, on Wednesday, 12 February, 3,200 people from the poorer districts of the outskirts of the capital and outlying rural areas, were housed in emergency centres, together with 200 people in the province of La Rioja.
Red Cross/Red Crescent Action
Argentine Red Cross assessments indicate that around 3,000 people were affected by the storms. Some 1,200 people were evacuated, mostly women and children, as follows: Pilar - 360 people; La Matanza -358 people; Escobar - 210 people; San Martín - 199 people; Tres de Febrero - 80 people. The Civil Defence, together with the fire brigade, took charge of evacuations, while city authorities issued warnings and safety advice to the population over the radio and on television.
The Argentine Red Cross monitored the situation closely and its volunteers were on standby. Of the nine branches in the disaster zone, San Andrés was required to mobilize assistance through the local emergency committee. 15 volunteers were deployed to assist evacuees in returning to their homes. The San Andrés branch also provided clothing and blankets to families living in high risk areas.
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