Argentina: Floods in Sáenz Peña (Chaco) Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) (MDRAR014)

A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

During the morning of the 20th of January, intense rain resulted in an accumulated rainfall of 290 mm in Presidencia Roque Sáenz Peña (Taking in consideration that the wettest month is January with an average of 100mm of rain). causing flooding that isolated zones across the city as well as cutting the electricity supply and causing the collapse of the sewerage system. Some homes and public buildings were flooded by between 10 cm and 150 cm of water. Presidencia Roque Sáenz Peña, which is part of the Chaco Province, is located 170 km from Resistencia (provincial capital) and 1,100 km from Buenos Aires.

The affected neighbourhoods are: Santa Mónica, Tiro Federal, Ginés Benítez, Monseñor de Carlo, Santa Elena, Hipólito Yrigoyen, Sáenz Peña, Milenium, San José, Piñeiro, Nala, Pablo VI and Quinta Ocho.

The city of Sáenz Peña is currently under the authority of the Provincial Police and the National Gendarmerie because of social tension and insecurity caused by the floods. Some communities have refused humanitarian assistance and stated that they did not want to leave their homes due to the fear of being robbed, with some neighbourhoods not being protected by security forces. There was a notable reduction in the tense situation following the decision of the national government to send in federal security forces to support the provincial security forces in the prevention of crime. The provincial government used a fairground as an emergency shelter for affected families and as a base for the reception of donations and provisions.

On the 24th of January, the emergency was publicized by the media and a “State of Hydric, Economic,
Productive and Social Emergency” was declared. All of the municipal and provincial government agencies are working to respond to this emergency, and the national government through the Secretariat of Civil Protection (which is part of the Ministry of Security) has mobilized staff to this zone.

At the time of writing the present report, 1,134 people were sheltered in three evacuation centres, of which two have problems with access to water that is fit for human consumption and difficulties with solid waste management in bathrooms. Due to this situation, some people are suffering from illnesses such as gastrointestinal pain and skin rashes. People who are sheltered in some of these centres do not have access to sanitary services, and there are some temporary difficulties in accessing food due to challenges in accessing the region.

The sewage system has collapsed, which is producing stagnant water and the production of foul odours. This issue affects the drainage of accumulated water in the streets.