April 02, 2013

Deadly storm in Buenos Aires

Last night a powerful storm hit Buenos Aires City and Province. Parts of our old Palermo neighbourhood were flooded to some degree, but other areas of the city were truly devastated.

At this writing, twenty-four hours later, eight deaths related to the storm have been confirmed, including one Subte worker. The entire subway system has been running at reduced capacity today, and all of Line B has been closed.

Many areas of the city and province remain flooded and about 500,000 residents are without power (in context: there are about fourteen million people living in metropolitan BA).

According to the BA City Government more than 155 mm of rain fell in various parts of the city within a two hour period after 6:00 p.m. This exceeded the record of April 8, 1989 when 142 mm fell, the highest for the month of April since records began in 1906.

As usual, the politicians have been active too. The Mayor returned from vacation in Brasil and promptly blamed the Federal Government for not having resources in place to deal with the storm.

A minister in President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner's federal cabinet put the blame squarely at the feet of the mayor, accusing him of holidaying abroad while the city suffered. Rumours abound that the Mayor is ready to mount his entry into national politics.

Argentina is a highly political arena, and people enjoy their political discussions around coffee and dinner. In this tragic situation work now needs to be done to help residents of those areas flooded and to repair the damage throughout the entire city. It will happen, and quite possibly in spite of the politicians. It's unfortunate for the citizens of this great city that politicians have to find their photo ops and sound bites first, even in tragedy.

Which reminds me of a BC premier who did the same thing after Vancouver's infamous Stanley Cup riots. Yes, the common touch - in pearls and high heels.

Photos of BA from La Nacion and Clarin. Photo of sweeping up from The Sun.

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