Tides as much as three meters higher than usual flooded several coast communities on Sunday and Monday, destroying several homes in Esmeraldas Province and causing property damage along much of the coast.
Ecuador’s meteorological office said the tides should subside Tuesday and Wednesday but said they will return intermittently as El Nino begins to affect the coastline.
Streets and sidewalks were flooded and, in some cases undermined, by waves that battered seawalls in Jama and Jambeli. In Salinas, city workers were busy Monday sweeping sand off the road and sidewalks after seawater overwashed the malecon. Authorities reported said that several buildings suffered water damage.
In Jama, strong waves collapsed part of a seawall and destroyed pavement along the malecon. The flooding prompted several residents to demand government action to prevent more damage. “The seas has been rising for years, washing houses away and knocking down the walls,” said Caty Mora. “The government knows it will get worse.”
Another resident, Roberto Ramirez, said he didn’t think the government could stop the damage. “It is Mother Nature. There’s no way to stop the ocean,” he said. “The ocean will eventually take all of this land.”
Retired geology professor Jorge Gonzalez, who lives near Salinas, said he believes that some of the condos along the Salinas malecon will eventually be destroyed. “It will all be gone within a generation,” he said. “The ocean has moved in 100 meters during my lifetime and it will only take a few more meters for it to begin taking down the buildings. There are studies that prove this but no one pays attention.”
The weather office said higher ocean temperatures due to El Nino has caused water levels to rise. “This is a natural phenomenon but it is made worse by El Nino. We should expect more of these incidents and must be prepared.”