Heavy rains continued to wreak havoc on areas near Cuenca Wednesday and Thursday, washing out highways and bridges, flooding farmland and destroying homes.
National Risk Management officials were in Azogues and other parts of Cañar Province Thursday, assessing damage from the overflow of the Rio Burgay. The flooding destroyed several bridges and two sections of the Pan American highway in Azogues and Biblián, and inundated at least 15 homes in low-lying areas.
The most serious damage in Azogues ocurred in the Cattle Plaza sector, where three families were evacuated and spent the night in fire department facilities. The nearby Sucre Market collapsed, officials say, and a landslide has blocked access to the community of Jerusalem.
The old railway bridge connecting La Concordia with Charasol, on Av. 16 de Abril was also destroyed by flooding, the Azogues mayor’s office said. The adjacent traffic bridge also suffered damage due to soil erosion on the banks of the Rio Burgay.
In addition to the closure of the Pan American highway, national transportation officials say that dozens of other roads in the area are blocked by landslides or washed out by flooding. They say that repair work will begin as soon as the weather permits. “We regret the inconvenience but motorists will need to take alternative routes to their destinations until remediation can be completed,” one official said.
Flooding also closed the Pan American south of Cuenca on Thursday and caused major damage in La Union, in the Yunguilla Valley. Santa Isabel Mayor Ernesto Guerrero met Thursday afternoon with Transportation Ministry officials to discuss road closures in La Union and surrounding areas due to the overflow of the Rio Chantaco. “The Cuenca – Machala highway is closed at kilometer 58 and we don’t know when it will reopen,” he said. “It all depends on the weather.”
He said a number of landslides are blocking local roads in the Yunguilla area but he is unsure of the extent of the damage. A number of homes have been damaged and others have isolated, he added.
“This is the worst rainy season we have seen in generations,” Guerrero said. “The farmers here tell me they have never seen it this bad. We are all praying for dry weather.”
Just south of Cuenca, the Rio Tarqui also overflowed its banks, inundating adjacent farmland in the Tarqui Valley.