City cleans up after weekend flooding as heavy rain pushes rivers over their banks

May 4, 2020

A bridge on the Rio Yanuncay is overwashed west of Cuenca.

Sunday was clean-up day in Cuenca following Saturday’s floods. On Saturday, emergency responders were called to three neighborhoods to evacuate families as rivers overflowed following two days of heavy rain. According to the Cuenca fire and rescue service, damaging flooding was widespread with flooding reported along all four of the city’s rivers.

A tree damaged a house on the Rio Yanuncay Saturday. (El Tiempo)

Rivers were still flowing at above-normal rates Sunday and the Citizen Guard warned residents to stay away. “Although we believe the worst is over, we ask all residents to stay off river banks since there have been collapses in some locations as well as fallen trees.”

A covered bridge in the San Juan de Barabón neighborhood of Baños parish was heavily damaged by Rio Yanuncay flood waters which also inundated streets and houses near the University of Azuay campus. Uprooted trees blocked another street near the Rio Machangara in northwest Cuenca while the Rio Cuenca flooded houses and farmland east of town. In the Challuabamba suburbs, northeast of Cuenca, a number of homes in Jardines del Río reported water damage. “We have more than a hundred reports of flooding, some of them very damaging,” a risk management official told radio Voz del Tomebamba Saturday night.

Transit police report that landslides have closed a number of roads and highways in the area.

Flooding has temporarily closed the Sústag potable water plant in the Cajas Mountains and may affect other drinking water facilities, Fabián Cazar, ETAPA drinking water manager, said. “The rains have created turbidty at all of our plants on the Tomebamba and Yanuncay and we will not know until daylight Sunday the extent of the intrusion.”

The flooding was a result of steady rains that fell on the central and southern sierra on Friday and Saturday. In Zamora Chinchipe Province, 300 families were forced to leave their homes as three river overwashed their banks. About half of those affected spent Saturday and Sunday nights at the are the Cantonal League coliseum and the General Rumiñahui school.

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