Contributed by: Don WinnerThe president, Ricardo Martinelli, confirmed this afternoon Monday, November 26, that the government will be using the money in the Sovereign Fund of Panama for the emergency arising due to constant rains that have caused floods, landslides, and the collapse of houses and highways in the Western part of the province of Panama and in Colon. Martinelli also said he would call for an extraordinary session of the National Assembly for Wednesday, 28 November 2012, for the Deputies to ratify the use of the Sovereign Fund. Martinelli added that the law creating the Sovereign Fund clearly states that when there is a national emergency, those resources can be used. During the special meetings of the National Assembly, they will also have to determine when the Sovereign Fund takes affect, which was approved this year and which replaced the Development Trust Fund.
Classes Suspended in Colon and Capira: The Minister of Education Lucy Molinar announced that classes are suspended for Tuesday throughout the province of Colon and the district of Capira. The minister said on Telemetro Reports that they will be monitoring the rest of the country and, on that basis, decisions will be made. She said no one wants to harm students, because the school year ends very soon.
Rescue: Efforts to rescue of two members of the Panamanian Red Cross who last night fell more than 30 meters in Quebrada Ancha on the Transístmica Highway, after this roadway collapsed, resumed this Monday, November 26, at about at 11:00 am. The necessary machinery for conducting the work arrived at the location, along with about 150 rescuers from different entities such as the National System of Civil Protection, Red Cross and the National Police.
The collapse of a section of the Boyd-Roosevelt highway, or better known as Transístmica, in the area known as Curva del Cebo in Quebrada Ancha, left two Red Cross rescue workers trapped underground, after the mudslide took them down the hill. Jorge Alemán and Fernando Johnson were the two Red Cross rescue workers who were trapped inside a parked pickup that was traveling on the road when the land underneath their vehicle gave way. There were six more people were Red Cross vehicle when the landslide occurred, who managed to jump before the street collapsed.
The road collapsed about 50 feet deep and covered about 100 feet wide, according to reports from the Ministry of Public Works and the Red Cross.
The Minister of Public Works, Jamie Ford, reported that they continue to work to rescue the two people who were buried, and to keep road safety in the place. Ford said he is waiting for a technical report to know the costs of the damage to the road on the Transistmica highway at Quebrada Ancha. Ford said the road collapsed due to the amount of water that has fallen in the province of Colon, which caused the land to give way. Minister Ford further said the Cabinet met at 12:00 noon, to allocate the necessary resources and thus solve the problems in the areas affected by floods. Meanwhile, the bridge at Palmas Bellas, in the district of Chagres, collapsed, so a temporary bridge will be built, according to the official.
Earlier it was reported that the Cabinet will meet at noon on Monday, November 26, to assess the extent of the damage. There they would also assess to see if it would be necessary "to pass a budget waiver, which would raise somewhat the maximum deficit allowed by law, in order to cope with a situation that has been dramatic," said the Minister of the Presidency Roberto Henriquez. This would have to be approved at the extraordinary session of the National Assembly, it has been reported.
Like yesterday, the president Ricardo Martinelli will travel this afternoon to visit the areas affected by floods and landslides. It was reported that, after the conclusion of the Cabinet Council, Martinelli is going to the Howard Airport, where he will board a helicopter to tour the Western part of the province of Panama and Colon.
A Situation Never Before Experienced: The neighborhood of Resurrección, adjacent to the Four Altos de Colón, was flooded this morning as a result of the heavy rains that have been falling in the province for eight days. The victims in this community are waiting for help from officials of the National System of Civil Protection (SINAPROC) and the Ministry of Housing and Land Management.
Women with children in their arms and older adults roamed the streets that are flooded with water and sewage that come to the waist. They are waiting to be able to enter their homes. Abelina Gonzalez, who has lived in Resurrección for 20 years, told La Prensa that the water had never risen so much as happened today. "The water started to come through the door in the morning and after a while it came in through the windows. It was horrible," Gonzalez said, waiting under the bridge of the Four Corners for support in Colon.
Water levels in the neighborhood of Resurrección in the Four Altos de Colón began to rise at 5:00 am on Sunday and, within minutes, houses, shops, warehouses, and a fuel station were all flooded.
Meanwhile, in the neighborhood of Nuevo Arco Iris, it was observed that some people are still staying in the place, even though the Sinaproc ordered the evacuation of the neighborhood. About 20 houses in this neighborhood sank last Friday, the ground below the project giving way due to the constant rains.
On Monday, the city of Colon was practically flooded, which kept people from moving from one place to another. Small vehicles could not even move through the streets. This also prevented vehicles from getting to Coco Solo, where there are container ports. To the list of affected communities and neighborhoods are added Villa del Caribe, Vista Tropical, Villa Guadalupe and Sagrada Resurrección. In other sectors in Colon, such as El Guabo, Gatún and Palmas Bellas, the streets and bridges were affected by the storm rains.
The authorities advised the public to take preventive measures, if you live in areas prone to flooding or landslides. They stressed that people should remain in their homes as the rains continue. Yesterday, the President of the Republic, Ricardo Martinelli declared emergency zones in La Chorrera, Capira and Colón to speed aid to people affected and to manage the repair of roads and bridges damaged after heavy rains in recent days.
Rising River Affects Water Treatment Plant: The provincial director of the Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (Idaan) of La Chorrera, Maximino Quintero, said the rising Caimito river caused production of the Mendoza water treatment plant to decrease, due to turbidity levels. However, he said turbidity levels are falling, so the plant recovery was quick. He added that the plant production fell by 50% due to turbidity and now the service is being restored gradually in the sectors concerned. Users who were affected by the low productivity of the water treatment plant were supplied with water tankers, he said. (Prensa)