Heavy afternoon thunderstorms on Thursday and Friday sent the Rios Machángara and Tarqui over their banks, flooding roads, homes and agricultural fields in several locations in Cuenca. Thursday rains temporarily shut down service of the San Pedro Water Plant as flooding contaminated collection pools. Friday rains triggered mudslides in two locations on Av. Conquistadores in the Guápulo neighborhood.
Although river levels receded overnight, the rios Yanuncay, Machángara and Tarqui were in pre-alert flood stage early Saturday. “Because the heavy storms are localized, we have experienced flooding in all areas of the city since Wednesday,” said Paul Ramirez, spokesman for the Cuenca Bomberos. “Firefighters and other emergency personnel helped several homeowners and motorists on Thursday and Friday. “The biggest problem is the mud which has flowed into houses and trapped drivers on several streets. We are facing big clean-up projects once the rains stop.”
According to city utility ETAPA, flooding at the San Pedro plant will result in the intermittent interruption of water service at least through Saturday. Areas affected include Racar, Pumayunga, Miraflores and Corazón de Jesús.
On Thursday, firefighters rescued eight people in the Tañiloma sector, north of Cuenca, who were trapped by Machángara flooding. On Friday, they helped motorists stranded on roadways by mud and rock slides.
The National Meteorological service says the rainy pattern could continue for several days. “It is unseasonal for the sierra to experience heavy rainfall this time of year. A moisture fetch flowing from the Peruvian Amazon to the northwest over Ecuador, is setting up strong afternoon showers. Sunny, warm mornings provide the fuel for the storms. The pattern is affecting the length of the inter-mountain region.”
The service said flooding has been widespread, with Quito, Riobamba and Cuenca experiencing the heaviest rainfall.