Azuay and Cañar communities assess damage but worry that more rain will bring new flooding
Local and national officials surveyed flood damage Friday in Azuay and Cañar Provinces but said major repairs cannot begin until the rain stops. “We have reopened one lane of the Pan American highway in three locations, near Azogues and Santa Isabel, but this is restricted to light vehicles,” Undersecretary of Transportation Luis Barsallo said. “We will move heavy equipment to the areas as soon as possible but major work cannot begin until we have drier weather.”
Barsallo said he was “stunned” by the extent of the flooding in La Union and nearby communities in the Yunguilla Valley, north of Santa Isabel. “This is unprecedented. Our records show that this region has not received this amount of rain in decades.”
According the Transportation Ministry, the Pan American highway at kilometer marker 58 will require major repairs and about 100 meters of the road to the La Asunción parish will need to be reconstructed. In addition, the Azuay prefect’s office reports that six houses have been destroyed and other structures suffered significant flood damage due to the overflow of the Rio Chantaco. Large quantities of rocks and mud also require removal on streets and public areas.
As of Friday night, most of the La Asunción parish near La Union remained without electricity or water service while several neighborhoods between La Union and Santa Isabel suffered intermittent outages.
In Cañar Province, Friday rains continued to deposit large amounts of debris on roadways. As in Santa Isabel canton, officials say they need dry weather to begin remedial work. In Azogues, seven critical points were identified, included two collapsed bridges due to damage from the overflow of the Rio Burgay. Two large markets in Azogues were damaged, including one structure that collapsed entirely.
A 50-meter section of the Pan American highway between Biblián and Azogues was partially destroyed and traffic was being rerouted Friday night.
“The damage is extensive here, just as in Santa Isabel,” Barsallo said. “Because of damage to the banks of the Burgay and other waterways we will need to conduct dredging operations to prevent a recurrence.”
Vice President Alfredo Borrero toured areas affected by flooding in Azuay and Cañar Provinces Friday afternoon and said the Ministry of Housing, the National Police, the Ecuadorian Transit Commission and the Armed Forces will assist, as necessary, in recovery efforts.
According to the National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology, Inamhi, between the night and early morning of this Friday and Saturday there will be rains in Azuay, Cañar and Zamora Chinchipe.