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Thursday, June 27 2019 @ 10:01 AM UTC

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Flooding Rivers Affect Many Communities In The Darien

Weather #Panama - It was not easy to reach Sambú and Puerto Indio in the Darien province. The trip was more than two hours in a boat of the State Border Service (SENAFRONT), accompanied for a large part of the journey by an insistent rain and rough seas that sent their raging waves to the coast. Upon entering the majestic Sambu river, one could feel the effects that several days of constant rain had left on the colossus. The river had overflowed its banks and reached several communities located along its shores.

Flooded: One was the community of Sambu, where the situation was quite serious. The water was several feet deep in the homes, many of which managed to avoid the worst of the flooding because they were built in building on stilts, some two levels tall. Not all met the same fate. Both there and in the neighboring community of Puerto Indio there were those who lost their belongings, such as mattresses, clothes and stoves, as what happened to the Rivera family, consisting of three children and two adults. At about midnight on Friday the rising waters surprised them as well as their neighbors. They tried to salvage some belongings, but in the end their instinct to save life was what mattered and the water ended up taking many of their things. The Sambu river did not spare anything; schools, churches, government offices, the headquarters of the local municipality, and sports fields were flooded, and even the airfield of the place was literally swallowed by the waters.

Affected: Eduardo Figueroa of the National Civil Protection System (Sinaproc), in the province of Darien, said in Puerto Indio some 220 people were affected, while in Sambu another 300 more met the same fate, mostly losing some furniture, livestock and plantations, but thank God there were no injuries or destruction of homes. In the community of Puerto Indio, the people no longer feel comfortable inhabiting the place. That is why the regional Emberá Wounaan chief, Tino Quintana, asked the Government to expedite the relocation of the population to another safer place because there have been more and more recurrent floods, its getting worse, and he fears in one of these there may be loss of life.

The landscape of both Sambu and Puerto Indio were dramatic, people walking in water up to their waist, some in boats, and others watching the arrival of aid from their balconies, as it was distributed by SENAFRONT and Sinaproc units. Meanwhile personnel from the Ministry of Health made trips to prevent, as is common after floods, outbreaks of stomach illnesses such as diarrhea cause by drinking contaminated water. As of last night, the weather had improved and they reported a decrease in the water levels, but also other communities further upriver were also affected, such as Barandó and Villa Teresa. At the edge of the Inter American Highway in Zapallal, the water swallowed the road for a few hours; vehicular traffic was later restored. Serious flooding was also reported in Santa Fe, where the town was cut off by flood waters. Emergency response personnel were there until the wee hours of the night. (Mi Diario)

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More Than 200 Evacuated From Banks of Palo Blanco River

Weather#Panama - Two hundred people from the communities of Blanco Arriba, San Antonio, Balaspit and others near the Palo Blanco river have been evacuated as a precautionary measure, due to a "reservoir" created in the upper channel of the river near the sector of Plancitos of the district of Barú. "On instructions from the Director General of the SINAPROC, Arturo Alvarado De Icaza, we have preemptively evacuated the communities surrounding the river. People are being sheltered in the gymnasium of the community of Progreso," said Abelardo Serrano, the Director in charge of the institution in Chiriquí. Engineers from the SINAPROC and ANAM went to the "reservoir" yesterday, to conduct a study and to build a report with recommendations, which will be forwarded to the Director General of Civil Protection. They also carried bags of food and water to victims in the community of Los Plancitos. Thirty-three persons, of whom 14 were adults and 19 children, residing in the banks of the Palo Blanco river, were evacuated from the area via helicopter HP 1418. State institutions in conjunction with provincial and municipal authorities have been active in the Emergency Operations Center and have worked together to evacuate the 200 people housed in Progreso. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: About a week ago a massive mudslide came down and blocked the channel of the Palo Blanco river. Since that time, a new "reservoir" of water - like a large lake - has been backing up behind that blockage caused by the mudslide. Sooner or later the water will get high enough to reach the top of the mudslide. Eventually water will start to flow over that blockage and begin to erode it away. Once that happens, the whole thing could open up in a relatively short period of time, from minutes to hours, sending a wall of water rushing down the valley as the pent up water is released. These people were evacuated as a precautionary measure.

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Heavy Rains and Flooding Leaves Darien Communities Incommunicado

Weather #Panama - The Zapallal, Sabana and Cucunatí rivers in the Darien province have overflowed their banks, leaving several communities incommunicado today, Tuesday, 18 October 2011, according to the National Civil Protection System (Sinaproc). The Inter American Highway was closed as of 5:00 am this morning, due to the rising flood waters of the Zapallal river near the community of the same name. The SINAPROC also reports the Sabana river in Santa Fe has overflowed its banks. Another town that is incommunicado is La Cantera because the Cucunatí river also is flooding.

MUDSLIDES: Additionally, there were reports of landslides in the area of Río Congo Arriba, where sections of road were closed by the overflowing of the Venado, Bonito, Pavo and Gira rivers. The San Antonio river in Garachiné is also at flood stage. The residents of these communities and other nearby towns are concerned because in Sambú Latino and Puerto Indio the water has risen from two to four feet. (Prensa)

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SINAPROC Trying To Figure Out What To Do About "Lake" Caused By Mudslide

Weather#Panama - The National Civil Protection System (SINAPROC), will conduct further inspections on Tuesday in the community of Los Planes, in the sector of Rodolfo Aguilar Delgado of Barú, in the province of Chiriquí, where for 6 days a huge dam on the Palo Blanco river has caused the destruction of four homes and damaged a school. Abelardo Serrano, Acting Director of SINAPROC, said they hope to do an overflight of the area in conjunction with experts in hydrology and Special Engineers from the Ministry of Public Works, and experts in geo sciences, to evaluate the Palo Blanco river. The "lake" now covers more than two kilometers and it can be dangerous. "We want to see what we are facing, to take the most appropriate steps, and to alert downstream communities to be prepared for any eventuality of gravity," Serrano said. He said the school in the area is starting to fill with water, while the rains continue in the area. On Tuesday the Director of the SINAPROC is expected to visit the sector, together with experts, who will go to the area where the mudslide has created this "reservoir." (TVN)

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Massive Mudslide Dams River in Panama - Creates New Lake

Weather #Panama - Los Planes, Chiriqui - While the rains persist over the province of Chiriqui, in the west, the water level in the Palo Blanco river (in the Baru mountains) continues to rise. The river was dammed by a large landslide that occurred last Friday. The acting director of the National Civil Protection System (Sinaproc) in Chiriqui, Abelardo Serrano, said in the coming days a specialist in hydrology will be in place to determine what to do to release the large amount of water contained in the area of Los Planes. They have to figure out how to release the water without affecting the communities of Blanco Arriba and others close to the Palo Blanco river, said Serrano. Meanwhile, authorities have called on residents in areas near the river to seek higher ground to avoid dangerous situations or to put their lives at risk. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: This is a weird one. On Friday there was a massive mudslide that came down into the Palo Blanco river valley and dammed up the river. I mean, this thing was huge. The river stopped flowing and now a brand new lake is forming behind this massive mudslide (slash) dam. Authorities have estimated the water will have to rise another five meters or so, before it gets to the top level of the mud and rock dam, and then the natural water flow will erode the dam away and the waters will begin to flow again on their natural course. However, by then there will be millions of gallons of water pent up behind this impromptu earthen dam, and it could all give way practically at once. That would create a huge wall of water rushing down the valley, and destruction will follow. The dam caused by the mudslide is in a very remote area that's only accessible by helicopter so it would be difficult or impossible to get heavy equipment in there to tear a hole in the dam. It's wet mud, so explosives might (or might not) do the trick. In the meantime, the water continues to accumulate in the new "lake" upstream, and downstream residents are wondering what's going to happen. Stay tuned. In the meantime watch out for any real estate agents pushing "lakefront property" in the mountains of Chiriqui...

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Landslides and Flooding Cause Concerns in Chiriqui

WeatherA two kilometer long dam on the Palo Blanco river near the community of the same name put the security of the families at risk who have their houses near the river in the District of Baru in the province of Chiriqui. Specialists and engineers went to the area to perform an inspection of this dam, created by a mudslide that keeps the community in distress. Likewise, emergency response personnel of the National Civil Protection System made a fly over of the area on Friday to see the situation from the air, that's affecting the community of Los Planes in the District of Baru, who have been affected by the rains that have fallen in the sector. "Once we knew the situation, SINAPROC staff moved to the affected area, for inspection by land and air with the support of SENAN" said Abelardo Serrano, acting director of the institution in Chiriqui. Sinaproc is asking the people who live near the Palo Blanco river to take the precautionary measures and to avoid entering this channel, and for those who live very close to the river to evacuate to higher and safer ground, said Serrano. (Panama America)

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Heavy Rains Cause Flooding of 75 Houses in Azuero

WeatherThe heavy rains at that fell last night in the Azuero region affected more than 75 houses as well as the rice fields. The water entered at least 73 homes in Pueblo Nuevo de Tonosí, due to the overflowing of the river of the same name. At least five houses were affected specifically in La Arena de Chitré, La Villa de Los Santos, due to work being done on the road, according to Javier Vega, a correspondent for TVN. (TVN)

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Local Residents Cutting Up Old Bridge And Selling It For Scrap

Weather#Panama - A group of low-income families in the community of La Victoria, in the district of Boqueron, Chiriqui province, found the opportunity to bring home income from the sale of the twisted iron - the remains of the bridge over the Piedra river, that collapsed eight days ago. People risking their own lives cut the iron of the old structure on the River Piedra, and using a rope haul the pieces of metal up the sides of the river between the stones. They sell the scrap metal for $10 per 100 lbs (10 cents per pound). "We the residents of La Victoria de Boqueron have seen that the iron of the old bridge has fallen, we are using it to find revenue for our homes and to bring food to our children," said Arquímedes Quintero, who has been working to recycle the metal of the old bridge structure. Quintero said that about ten families are benefiting from the sale of iron, because the other inhabitants do not dare to go down to the river bed for fear that a head of water might come down from the mountains and drag them away. For his part, divisional chief of the MOP Roberto Lezcano said sent officials of the institution with machinery to remove the iron and to take it to the workshops in David, because this is part of the heritage of the state. (Panama America)

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Regional Director of SINAPROC in Chiriqui Resigns

Weather#Panama - Zoila Chávez José Donderis, who served as the Regional Director of the National Civil Protection System (Sinaproc) in Chiriqui, was dismissed from his position yesterday amid the crisis prevailing in the west of the country due to heavy rains. Sources close to the officer said he was ordered out of the position, even though the Chiriqui region is in a state of emergency. However the General Manager of SINAPROC Arturo Alvarado said he was only sent on vacation, and he discarded the idea that he had been fired. Alvarado said Donderis had requested the vacation, and at the time he denied there was an emergency in the province. "He, as a human being, deserves his rest - he asked for it himself," said Alvarado. For his part, Donderis this is not the time to talk. "Today is Sunday and I have not been notified at all," he said.

More damage - Meanwhile, the rains do not let up. As of yesterday 65 people have been affected, and 13 houses have been damaged due to the overflow of the Fonseca river (Soloy, comarca Ngäbe Buglé) Piedra river (El Tejar de Alanje), and Chiriquí river (area of Chiriquí, David). In addition, there have been three landslides and fallen trees on the roads to Volcán, río Sereno, Gualaca and Chiriquí Grande (Bocas del Toro). Abelardo Guillen, who is in charge of the work on the bridge over the Piedra river, said the rising river water completely destroyed the progress they had made in the last three days, and that high water levels forced him to withdraw the teams working for protect the bridge footings in use. One of the most affected areas is Soloy, in the Ngäbe Bugle region, so the Sinaproc staff is evaluating the communities of San Francisco, Nueva Generación, Soloy, Boca de Miel and Jebay, affected by the overflow of the Fonseca river. In this area 11 houses and 53 persons were reported as affected by the flooding, of which 25 sought temporary shelter established in the Joaquina H. de Torrijos school. (Mi Diario)

Editor's Comment: The Regional Director of the SINAPROC in Chiriqui, Zoila Chávez José Donderis, resigned this morning. I don't know what happened, but something obviously did. Some people rise to deal with emergency situations, others melt when faced with very difficult tasks or situations. Apparently the time came for someone else to carry the ball.

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Inter American Highway Closed at Boqueron As Preventative Measure

Weather #Panama - Boqueron, Chiriqui. -The National Civil Protection System (Sinaproc) remains on alert in response to the constant rains that are falling in the western province of Chiriqui, so they decided to close the Inter American Highway, at the bridge over the Chico river in the district of Boqueron, as a preventive measure. On Monday the flooding Chico river devastated the old bridge, which was used as part of the Inter American Highway to cross the border between Panama and Costa Rica. Earlier this week the Caldera and Palo Alto rivers in Boquete, the Brujo river in David, and the Wigaklaen river in Bugaba all flooded. As of 5:00 pm this afternoon on Saturday, 8 October 2011, heavy rains continue to fall throughout the province of Chiriqui, especially in Boqueron, on the west. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: I was thinking about going out to the baseball stadium to see the USA vs. Panama game tonight, but with this rain that's falling in Panama City, I'm having second thoughts. Maybe I'll just stay home and watch it on TVMax.

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