Argentina Floods – Thousands Remain Displaced as Military Carry Out Relief Efforts

As many as 7 provinces in Argentina remain affected by flooding that began in early April, 2016.

Estimates suggest that there are still around 40,000 people affected by the floods, with some 12,000 displaced. The prolonged displacement of so many has raised concerns about their health and well-being, and prompted the government to call on the military to carry out relief operations in affected areas.

Heavy rain observed in the region from early April resulted in flooding after several rivers overflowed in the north of the country, leaving thousands displaced and adding to the woes of a population that has suffered flooding intermittently since December 2015.

Rainfall More Than 300mm Above Monthly Average

Heavy and prolonged rain has been observed in Argentina over the last month, with some areas seeing over 300mm more than normal.

According to a technical report of the Argentinian National Meteorological Service (Servicio Nacional de Meteorológia, SMN) a significant amount of rain has been recorded from the 01 April 2016 to the 20 April 2016, with cumulated values significantly higher than the historical mean monthly values.

The difference was particularly high in the Uruguay River Basin, with a surplus of 343.6 mm recorded at Concordia (Entre Ríos Province) and of 337.8 mm at Monte Caseros (Corrientes Province). Also along the Paraná River the observed values were exceptionally high, with a surplus, in respect of the mean value, of 257.7 mm recorded at Reconquista (Santa Fe Province).

Cumulated Rain [mm] from 1 April 2016 until 20 April 2016. Image: Servicio Nacional de Meteorológia, Argentina
Cumulated Rain [mm] from 1 April 2016 until 20 April 2016. Image: Servicio Nacional de Meteorológia, Argentina

Thousands Remain Displaced

The torrential rains of April 2015 caused several rivers to overflow, chiefly the Uruguay, Paraná and tributaries, and the flooding of several urban and agricultural areas in the provinces of Entre Ríos, Corrientes, Formosa, Santa Fe, Cordoba and Chaco, impacting many regions and people that had already been affected by the floods that occurred between December 2015 and January 2016.

The prolonged flood situation, combined with the ebb and flow of the flood waters and those displaced by them, make it difficult to find exact figures on the number of people currently affected and evacuated. The Red Cross estimates the figure at around 30,000. Other sources suggest it is above 40,000.

According to the Pan American Health Organization, “as of April 26, 2016, in the provinces of Corrientes, Entre Rios, Santa Fe, Chaco, and Formosa, a total of 11,826 people have been evacuated, 255 people have been self-evacuated, 744 people are isolated, and 44,882 people have been affected”.

Cristian Bolado, director of Emergency Response and Disaster Argentina Red Cross, said in a recent report on the flood situation that in the provinces of Córdoba, Chaco, Entre Rios, Corrientes, Santa Fe, Formosa and Buenos Aires there are 2,084 families evacuated, plus those who have self-evacuated and those who aren’t displaced but whose houses have suffered flood damage.

The most recent flooding occurred in Chaco Province, where 4,653 people remain evacuated or self-evacuated, according to Argentina news agency Telam.

Military Assistance

Hundreds of troops from Argentina’s armed forces have been deployed to carry out relief and rescue operations in in the provinces of Buenos Aires, Chaco, Corrientes, Entre Rios, Formosa, Misiones and Santa Fe. Food, medicines, mattresses, clothes and drinking water have all been distributed.

Defense Minister Julio Martinez recently visited affected communities in the provinces of Corrientes and Santa Fe, and yesterday in parts of Entre Ríos Province.

“We are carrying out the express wishes of the President, who asked remain in contact with the victims and to meet their needs,” said the minister.

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Floods from above, in Goya, Corrientes, 20 April, 2016. Photo: Ministerio de Defensa, Argentina.
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The Argentina Army carrying our flood relief and rescue operations in Gualeguaychú, Entre Ríos. Photo: Ejército Argentino / Ministerio de Defensa, Argentina.
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The Argentina Army carrying our flood relief and rescue operations. Photo: Ministerio de Defensa, Argentina.
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Minister of Defence visits flood-hit areas of Entre Ríos Province, Argentina, 28 April 2016. Photo: Ministerio de Defensa, Argentina.
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Teams from Argentina Red Cross assisting flood victims, April 2016. Photo: Argentina Red Cross

Reporting by Alessandro Masoero, with additional reporting by Richard Davies.