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Monday, March 18 2019 @ 02:11 PM UTC

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SINAPROC Declares "Emergency Zones" In Several Parts of Province of Panama Due To Flooding

WeatherThe National Civil Protection System of Panama (Sinaproc) Friday declared "emergency zones" in several parts of the country due to floods caused by heavy rains in the last hours. The areas designated as "emergency" are in the Eastern sector of the province of Panama, where the Cabra river overflowed, and in the Western sector where the Caimito and Aguacate rivers caused problems in the villages of Arraiján and Pacora, according to a press release from SINAPROC. Authorities estimate that 400 people were affected by the floods that have affected nearly 150 homes, where the waters have reached one meter deep. This morning residents affected by the flooding of the Cabra river temporarily blocked the streets to denounce that the flooding was supposedly caused by an illegal landfill that a company is building in the area. The mayor of Panama, Bosco Vallarino, traveled to the area and committed to the neighbors to investigate the complaint. Last week, another rainstorm hit the Atlantic province of Colon, where floods have affected hundreds of homes and prevented the normal movement of goods valued at $75 million dollars dollars through the Colon Free Trade Zone. (Estrella)

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70 Houses Flooded by Rio Cabra in 24 de Diciembre

Weather#Panama - About 70 houses in the neighborhood of Nueva Esperanza El bajo near 24 de Diciembre were flooded when the Rio Cabra overflowed its banks after the heavy rains that fell this afternoon. Furniture, appliances, school supplies and other items were rendered useless when the water entered the houses. According to Maria Gonzalez, a resident of the neighborhood affected, a company that is making a filling on one side of the Rio Cabra is to blame for the flood. She said they intend to build a gas station and although the company responsibly for making the landfill was warned it would cause the river to over to overflow, they did it anyway. It was reported that the National Civil Protection System conducting an assessment, but it is unknown if other neighborhoods flooded. The victims seek help from the authorities. (TVN)

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Cleanup of Mudslides Continues in Quebrada Ancha

Weather #Panama - The Governor of Colon, Pedro Rios, inspected the work being done on the road between Panama and Colon this morning that was damaged by the rains that hit the province last November 9. Since November 11 this part of the road, specifically near Quebrada Ancha, has been closed due to the work being done to remove mudslides that had blocked the road. This has caused the inhabitants of Buena Vista, Salamanca, San Juan and Santa Rosa to spend more money on transportation because they have to make transfers to reach their destinations. Rios said the work is progressing, but they still need to clean the road, so therefore the new highway from Panama to Colon will be free (no tolls) until the work is complete. (Prensa)
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Constant Rains Causing Chaos in Province of Panama

WeatherThe constant rain has produced several reports on flooding and disruption in the province of Panama. A tree fell down, blocking three lands of the roadway and causing a massive traffic jam in the area of Loma Cová, in the district of Arraiján. The roadways near the Centennial Bridge, especially near the town of Paraiso, were flooded, preventing the passage of smaller vehicles. Closer to the bridge a car went off of the roadway and fell into a ditch, in the direction going towards Panama City. (Telemetro)

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More Than 5,000 Affected By Heavy Rains, Flooding, and Mudslides

Weather More than 5,000 people have been affected (2,212 in the province of Colon and 3,000 in the province of Cocle) by two mudslides, one in Salamanca and another in Achiote. Additionally, 545 homes have been damaged, the Colon Free Trade Zone has lost more than $100 million dollars in business, and Transístmica between Panama City and Colon has been closed as the result of heavy rainfall, flooding, and mudslides. Yesterday, there was additional structural damage in Colon with the fall of two bridges that are already being repaired, said the director of the National Civil Protection System (Sinaproc), Arturo Alvarado. He added that the presence on Thursday night of the storm "Sean", located between Cuba and the United States, aggravated the situation on the Atlantic coast and part of the province of Cocle. In the latter province the rains brought down trees and left those living in the mountainous area incommunicado for several hours. The greatest damage occurred in the area of Altos de la Mesa, where there was a landslide that affected some 3,000 residents. Sectors such as Río Indio Arriba, Río Indio Centro and Jordanal have remained isolated for several hours, while farmers in the sector have not been able to take their goods to markets due to the poor condition of the road. Meanwhile, the authorities indicated that the rains will persist in the coming days.

Reservoirs of the Canal, At Maximum Levels: The Gatun and Alajuela reservoirs have reached their peak levels, according to the Panama Canal Authority. Although the flow of water is used in electricity generation, the organization warned the public that, depending on weather conditions, they will have to conduct preventative spills of water through the Gatun and Madden dams. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: November is the rainiest month in Panama. These kinds of events happen every year. Storms and cold fronts can come over the country and then stall, dumping unbelievable amounts of water on relatively small areas, quickly overcoming the natural ability to drain the water away. The rain-soaked earth becomes water logged and unstable, resulting in mudslides. Last year the mudslides that fell into the Alajuela reservoir screwed up the supply of drinking water in Panama City for months.

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Panama Canal Authority Will Conduct Spills To Release Excessive Water Behind Dams

WeatherThe Gatun and Alhajuela dams have reached their maximum operating levels, according to the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), and therefore they will conduct preventive spills ​​of water. The water level has increased behind these dams thanks to the constant rains that have occurred since last November 8. The ACP advised that the nearby towns should be alert for the sound of sirens, which will be sounded before the water is released. The timing of the spills will depend on weather conditions. (Telemetro)

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3,000 Cut Off By Mudslides in El Valle

WeatherLA MESA, Coclé - At least 3,000 people living in five communities in the mountainous area of ​​El Valle have been affected by landslides that have occurred in the area. Jose Ángel Robira, the coordinator of the National Civil Protection System (Sinaproc) in El Valle, said the cold front that is affecting Colon has also caused damage in the province of Cocle. According to Robira, rains have caused landslides and strong winds have knocked down several trees, pulling down power lines. La Mesa, Río Indio and Jordanal, among other communities, seek help from the authorities to remove the mud and rocks from the roadway, which is preventing vehicular passage. Area authorities are coordinating with the Ministry of Public Works to remove debris from the roadway between Rio Indio and La Mesa in El Valle. (Prensa)

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Transístmica Closed Between Panama City and Colon Due To Mudslide Risk

WeatherAuthorities from the Ministry of Public Works have closed the Transístmica roadway today for maintenance work because of the havoc caused by rains in the past 72 hours. This was revealed by the Minister of Public Works, Federico Suarez on RPC Radio, adding that he does not know how long the road will be closed. Suarez said that the road will be closed because there are several hills in the area near the edge of the Transístmica highway where they have detected "significant cracks" that could result in huge mudslides. He said they would be performing work in these areas to eliminate the danger for persons who travel on the Transístmica highway route. The minister asked drivers headed between Panama City and Colon to use the new highway, and that tolls have been waived due to the situation. He also asked drivers to only travel to these areas if absolutely necessary, because the MOP has to send heavy equipment to perform this work, and they need expeditious passage. (Prensa)
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Another Mudslide - Transistmica Still Blocked Going To Colon

Weather#Panama - A new mudslide occurred on Via Transístmica near Quebrada Ancha, where an earlier mudslide had occurred the night before, as confirmed by Pedro Rios, the Governor of Colon. The mudslide fell when a backhoe from the Ministry of Public Works was working in the area, removing the dirt and rocks that had already fallen into the roadway. Rios said this new mudslide would delay the reopening of the roadway to vehicular traffic. Everyone should use the alternate route of the Panama - Colon highway to enter or leave the province of Colon. (Critica)

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Schools Closed in Colon Due To Heavy Rains and Flooding

Weather#Panama - The Education Ministry suspended classes Wednesday in the province of Colon, affected by floods and landslides, after more than 12 hours of steady rain, and it's still raining. So far there have been no fatalities, but the SINAPROC estimated that between 500 to 600 families have bee affected so far by flooding, according to preliminary information provided by Jaime Ospina, of the National Civil Protection System. The most affected area is Cativá, where several neighborhoods such as San Pedro 1 and 2, Guayabal and El Limite were flooded by the overflowing Santa Ana river. Some people fled to the town council for shelter. While the highway from Panama to Colón can be used without problems, the old road, Boyd Roosevelt, from Rio Gatun to Quebrada Ancha, has become dangerous due to mudslides that have occurred at various points such as in Nuevo México and Quebrada Ancha. The latter sector is virtually cut off by the landslides. The Ministry of Public Works has dispatched teams and equipment who will work to reopen the road.

For her part, Minister of Education, Lucy Molinar confirmed in a telephone interview with TVN that today she ordered the suspension of classes in the province. Molinar said that since there will be no classes anyway on Thursday, 10 November, due to the independence day celebrations (from Spain in 1821), that will give them an additional day to assess the situation in Colon. (TVN)

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