Tuesday, July 06, 2004

 Disaster in San Felipe


Tuesday 6, July 2004

I have been sick all through the long week end. Thus I could not go out to check on the disaster that has happened to my home town. I did not report earlier on it as I was hoping to take some pictures myself of find some article from the Caracas newspapers, but we are so far from Caracas…

Rainy season has started early this year and it has been raining almost every day since Easter. All is now green and lush, and water logged. On Sunday afternoon we had a strong rain coming as usual from the Caribbean, in the Puerto Cabello/Chivacoa direction. It was a heavy rain, like the monsoon like we get 4/5 times a year in San Felipe, when in my street there is so much water that the second step of the stairs to the door is under water. And the street has a slope! But the water comes rushing from the higher part of the street in such amount that a small car could be moved. If spectacular, it is OK as the houses and street are designed for drainage.

But Sunday something happened. The rain intensity started going down, presumably as the heavy clouds keep on their way to Chivacoa. Suddenly there was a reverse in the wind direction and the rain came back from Chivacoa with a vengeance. The strong wind seemed almost like a small hurricane and the balcony of my apartment could not evacuate fast enough the water pouring through it horizontally. The water thus went under the balcony door and within 5 minutes half of my apartment was under water. I spent half an hour pushing the water to the bathroom and kitchen drainage. I thought that it was like the hurricanes I experienced in the US, maybe not a real one but something looking like one, with even an eye of sorts!

But I was the lucky one, only rain water on my floors. The water logged side of a hill gave up when the second rain wave of Sunday afternoon came in. Not a big mud slide but big enough to clog a "quebrada", the terms we use for dry river beds that fill up suddenly with water during rainy season for a few hours after a rain. The consequences was a large muddy wave that took away about 4 dozen houses, placed too close to the "quebrada El Guayabito". As far as I can tell 3 people have died or disappeared, and a few are injured and more lost their humble possessions, since as usual people that live in those areas are land squatters that are allowed to build their houses in such places. Even though the Yaracuy government is good about cleaning urban "quebradas" at rainy season, sometimes nature strikes.

I tried Monday, in spite of my cold to try to go out. But roads to the neighborhood were barred, heavy machinery was at work. The streets were full of mud, I was with sandals, a bad cold and it was drizzling. Nothing really I could do. Except for these pictures of people cleaning their street and a view of a wide avenue where I occasionally stroll on exercise walks. Today I went to work and I planned to try again but I got worse and had to come back home to rest. I will try again tomorrow but I understand that it is almost clean right now, they are only looking for the body of a 2 year old baby girl that was swept away with her uncle trying to rescue her. The body of the uncle has been found.





PS: El Universal does carry an article today with a picture of the damages.

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