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Thursday, December 13 2018 @ 08:51 PM UTC

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Red Cross Vehicle Buried In Mudslide At Quebrada Ancha Found

WeatherForensic medical officers and Red Cross rescue personnel are organizing the removal of the vehicle that was being used by the two rescuers from the Panamanian Red Cross, who went missing since last Sunday. It has not yet been confirmed if their bodies are in the vehicle, according to reports from the Red Cross. Three bulldozers continue to remove the soil around the vehicle, while the work of the other two was suspended after the car was found.

Vehicle Found - The vehicle that was being used by the two rescuers from the Panamanian Red Cross, who were swept away by a mudslide on Sunday, was found this morning, Thursday, November 29. The director of the Panamanian Red Cross, Jorge Fernández, said there was a 99.9% chance that the vehicle they found belongs to the institution. Fernandez said they are working to stabilize the ground in the surrounding area to keep it from falling or endangering more lives. After that, two shovels would be used to remove the vehicle, he said on RPC Radio. In this task, Panamanian rescuers are working together with specialists from Colombia, Costa Rica and Mexico.

On Sunday November 25, the two rescuers from the Red Cross Jorge Alemán and Fernando Johnson were were buried by a landslide at the "Curva del Cebo" in Quebrada Ancha, Colon. They went to that place to check on a report that had been submitted by a driver, who said the roadway (Transistmica) was cracking. (Prensa)

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Flood Victims In El Pantanal Are Asking For Assistance

WeatherResidents of El Pantanal located in Western Panama said they have not received any aid, although they have been victims, after the river Caimito overflowed its banks. They said near the Caimito river there are still houses buried, and they have not been able to throw out the trash, so they are calling on the authorities to provide them with assistance. The people who were affected said some time ago a landfill was constructed that could have influenced the floods. While another said they have no drinking water, but at least they have sent bottled water. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: A common theme in the aftermath of these floods is an attempt to find someone to blame. People seem to think that construction done a long time ago downstream caused the river to flood, for some reason. What caused the river to flood in reality was a concentrated downpour of a whole lot of water in a relatively concentrated area, over a short period of time. Landfill or no landfill - if there's too much water for the river to handle, it's going to flood.

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Rescue Efforts Continue At Quebrada Ancha Mudslide Site

WeatherToday for the fourth day continues the search operation to locate the rescuers from the Panamanian Red Cross, Jorge Alemán and Fernando Johnson, who have been missing since the car in which they were travelling was swept away in a mudslide when the Boyd Roosevelt Highway (Transistmica) collapsed at Quebrada Ancha, in the province of Colon.

Red Cross staff, firefighters and other Government institutions are involved in the rescue efforts, with the use of bulldozers and other equipment to dig the earth and to locate the car in which the two Red Cross officers were traveling.

It was learned that the six Mexican rescuers are already in Panama, and it is expected they will join the rescue efforts this afternoon.

In addition, eleven rescuers from Costa Rica have also confirmed their participation in the work. (Critica)

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Inter American Development Bank Will Donate $200,000 For Flood Relief in Panama

WeatherThe Inter American Development Bank (IDB) will donate $ 200,000 to humanitarian relief efforts in Panama, after the heavy rains that hit the country, killing five people and causing material damage.

"The IDB will promptly give a donation of $200,000 for immediate relief activities," said the financial institution.

The IDB representative in Panama, Tomás Bermúdez, overflew the affected areas on Tuesday together with Panamanian officials to assess the extent of the damage.

After an initial assessment, he believes the IDB will provide funding for the rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure such as roads, bridges, houses, schools, among others.

"We are very concerned about this situation and will do everything necessary to respond effectively and quickly," said Bermudez.

According to the National System of Civil Protection, more than a thousand homes were damaged and about 5,000 people were affected by the storm, in addition to considerable damage in structures, of which so far the government has not given an accurate assessment. (Estrella)

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The Effects Of Building Houses On Landfills In Floodplains

WeatherCollapsed houses, neighborhoods and sections of streets submerged in water, a highway destroyed, and five people died. That's part of the balance left by the heavy and constant rains during the weekend in Colon and Western Panama.

The scene is repeated amid warnings from civil society organizations on public policy in urban planning. All of the analysis has as an axis the use of landfills in areas prone to flooding to build houses.

The Nuevo Arco Iris neighborhood in Colon was built on a landfill, and in March this year, during the dry season, the authorities celebrated the delivery of the 150 houses built at a cost of $3.9 million, according to a statement from the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

Eight months later, the Ministry of Housing and Land Management ordered the evacuation of 40 families from the neighborhood, 11 of them because their homes were affected by the mudslide, and the remaining 29 because of cracks.

Why does a newly built house end up with cracks, or collapses? The question has multiple answers. The Panamanian Society of Engineers and Architects (SPIA) will meet today to discuss the issue. Horacio Robles, president of the SPIA, advanced some judgments about the causes of this reality. "At first we can deduce that it is problems with design and compaction of the earth," he said.

For Robles, the underlying issue is using land fills on flood plains to build. Not only what happened to the Nuevo Arco Iris neighborhood, but what happened in Arraiján suggests one should think about this building model. "We see that residences are being built at the low point near rivers, causing the rainwater to flow like a funnel," he said.

For the Minister of Housing José Domingo Arias, part of the answers for the floods and landslides are on global warming. "The issue of climate change has been a catalyst that has impacted the population," he said yesterday on Telemetro. Arias said the amount of water that fell was five times higher than normal. In his view, the construction of homes in Nuevo Arco Iris were of good quality and that prevented fatalities from happening. Arias said he will review the legal scope that the Ministry of Housing has in the monitoring process of the projects that are in the hands of the municipalities.

The architect and environmentalist Raisa Banfield found the Ministry of Housing is primarily responsible because it is the body responsible for approving plans for the projects. "To approve a project in a floodplain project is entirely preventable," she said. The Municipal responsibilities have more to do with the construction, in which there are few preventative measures, said Banfield.

The urban architect Geronimo Espitia, meanwhile, found that this is what happens when you do not listen to the technicians. Nuevo Arco Iris was built on a filled-in mangrove. Water seeps and eroding soil causing the mudslide and he collapse of the houses.

Ministry of Housing authorities announced they will stabilize the land and new houses will be constructed for the affected families in a rocky lot in the same area.

While at the same time as he expressed his concern over what happened in Arco Iris, Espitia and Robles turn their sights to the village of Juan Diaz. The landfills that are being constructed in the mangroves of Juan Diaz will cause major flooding in the upper part of this zone. "What is happening in Colon is just the tip of the iceberg of the consequences that may occur by filling in mangroves," said Espitia.

"I worry about the landfills in Juan Diaz because they can increase flooding in communities up stream," said Robles.

Minister Arias spoke about investigating and punishing those responsible for violating building codes. In social networks the questioning revolved around the lack of public policies for prevention. (Estrella)

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Update On Flood Relief Efforts

WeatherThe Social Development Minister, Guillermo Ferrufino, said this morning that flooding in the western sector affected 590 homes. The Metropolitan Health Director Jorge Hassan said there are 130 homes affected by flooding in Mastranto, making it one of the most affected areas in the Western part of the province of Panama. Therefore, the Government is executing a health operation in this region, involving officials from the Ministry of Health. In order to avoid epidemics fumigation was conducted this morning, and they visited every house to determine what people needed.

Diseases - Hassan said the zone of Mastranto was the most affected in the district of La Chorrera. To avoid diseases they are also visiting the area to search for the bodies of pets that died in these floods. In the Western sector the Ministry of Health has established a clinic to serve the people, because after such floods there are always are cases of dermatitis and cuts from sharp objects such as cans and broken glass. They have already treated 18 people who had skin ailments and cuts with cans. It is anticipated that this afternoon the president, Ricardo Martinelli, will visit the flood-affected area in the west of the province of Panama.

Savings Fund - The Minister of Economy and Finance, Frank De Lima, said he supports the proposal being put forward to use the money of the Savings Fund of Panama (FAP). "If you ask me my opinion, I would say that the FAP can be used at once," the official said. According to De Lima, this will determine whether the rules established for this fund are adequate. Also, they will see if the money arrives in time to provide solutions to these disasters, he said. De Lima said that this implementation would entail an audit process by the Comptroller General of the Republic. But "we are open to that" he said. The important thing is to see how the FAP functions for the future, said the official on Telemetro Reports.

Yesterday, Monday, the president of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, said the government will bring forward the entry into force of the FAP, and also requested a waiver of the Fiscal Responsibility Law, as consequences of the severe damage caused by heavy rains in recent days in western Panama and Colon. "We are going to change the dates so the FAP can take effect immediately," Martinelli said after the meeting of the Cabinet Council convened yesterday afternoon. The FAP Act was enacted in June this year and it absorbed the trust fund. The new law says the money can be used during an emergency, but starting in 2015.

Report Of Flooding Victims and Homeless People in Western Panama - Meanwhile, the director general of the National System of Civil Protection (SINAPROC) Arturo Alvarado, announced on Tuesday that about 236 homes were damaged as a result of the bad weather that hit the area of ​​western Panama. And the number of homes affected by flooding in this area is 630, he said. Alvarado said Tuesday the delivery of aid to areas affected by bad weather will continue. This, after an extraordinary emergency session, the Cabinet Council adopted a resolution declaring a state of national emergency as a result of the damage caused by the rains.

Alvarado told local media that the rescue phase has already been completed, which consisted, among other things, to bring cleaning equipment to all homes affected by bad weather. They have also been brought hot food, since many families lost their stove, he said. "We have been bringing them breakfast, lunch and dinner from day one," he said. He said at this time they are in the rebuilding stage, for people to return to their normal life, said the official, who said satellite images show a clearer picture. He said further that three people have died because of these facts, while on Tuesday the search continues for two rescuers in Colon.

Recommendations - Alvarado called on citizens not to pay any attention to information emerging on social networks. He said from their accounts they send warning messages, that are not alerts. In turn, requested that all the collection centers established in the country maintain coordination with the Office of the First Lady, "so the delivery is fair and in order." This will prevent the practice of people taking advantage of the situation, he added.

This Tuesday, November 27, officials will be receiving, from 8:00 am - donations such as bottled water, clothes, milk and food packages at the collection center of the Mayor's Office of Panama City, located on the ground floor of the Hatillo building. Another collection center was established in Omar Park (San Francisco).

400 People Without Water in Capira - Meanwhile, the destruction of the aqueducts of Santa Rosa, Nuevo Paraíso, Los Uveros and Ciricito, and because of the high water of the Cirí Grande river in the district of Capira, is keeping at least 400 people without potable water supply since Friday November 23. According to figures from the Capira Township, about 21 families (100 adults and 30 children) are affected, after their homes were flooded and destroyed, and later they ceded the land where they had been built. In some villages, such as Dos Aguas, river water is being used for washing and cleaning tasks.

Another problem in these communities, one repeated in others, is a lack of food. The rice they have - said Macario Cardenas - is wet and therefore they only have vegetables to eat. In this regard, the local Justice of the Peace Rosilda Ortega confirmed there is food in the stores of Cirí de Los Sotos but it is already running out, especially rice. Some rice and coffee were also destroyed by the high water, she said.

Meanwhile, the first aid to arrive to Cirí de Los Sotos by road started to arrive yesterday, after a three hour trip. Access is difficult because four of the six fords over the Rio Indio have been destroyed, and there were also mudslides. However, in the towns of Dos Aguas, El Progreso, Los Uveros, La Encantada, Nuevo Limón, Los Chorros and Lajaliza, help has yet to arrive. The Mayor of Capira Ivan Saurí said they have taken water and dry food to these sites. He added that the aid is being transported by air by the Sinaproc.

"The Arco Iris Project Was Done To Help Colon" - For his part, Minister of Public Works, Jamie Ford, responded to the questions that have emerged following the collapse of several houses in the Arco Iris project, located in the province of Colon, on Friday, Nov. 23. Ford said the Arco Iris project was built with the intention of supporting the people of Colon. "In this project we worked in good spirits to provide a housing solution to the humble people of Colon," said the minister, who said that after the collapse of houses happened in this place, the Government has not been hiding from its responsibility for what happened and "we have been showing our faces." In turn, Ford reiterated that the Government will provide new homes for those affected, once the official balance has been determined.

Ministry Of Health Declares Alert - Faced with these situations, the Ministry of Health advised citizens to take precautions to stay away from flooded areas, solid waste should be disposed of properly and not left outdoors. Max Ramirez, the director in charge of Health, said on TVN News that furniture such as sofas, should be discarded, because the accumulation of land and water that they can absorb in a flood becomes a source of contamination for humans. Ramirez also recalled that during this Tuesday the Ministry of Health will continue to provide health support to those affected with sanitation crews to the affected areas of western Panama.

Arabe Unido Will Donate Proceeds: The soccer team Deportivo Arabe Unido, which will play its semifinal game tonight against Plaza Amador in the Panamanian Soccer League, announced that in solidarity with the victims of Colon, all proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the Red Cross of Panama. Through a statement, Arabe Unido said the move was made "as a contribution from our club for all those families that were affected due to the heavy rains that hit the province these days." The game starts at 9:00 pm at the Muquita Agustin Sanchez stadium, the district of La Chorrera. (Prensa)

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Live Panama Canal Authority Weather Radar (Link)

WeatherBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - The Panama Canal Authority has a live weather radar you can use to monitor the current weather conditions. For obvious reasons the are most concerned about the watershed that feeds Lake Gatun and the Lake Alajuela. The Panama Canal Authority has to closely monitor water levels in these lakes, and because of the recent heavy rains they continue to dump water. Behind the Gatun and Madden dams the lakes are are their maximum levels. Click on this link to see the live looping radar picture. Once there, click on the tab that says "Radar Meteorológico." The radar picture is a live loop of the last six passes.

Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Emergency Aid Donation Collection Points Opened - Flooding in Panama

WeatherBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - The government and non governmental organizations, working together with private citizens and businesses, have established collection points for donations destined to victims of flooding and mudslides in Panama.

More than 3,000 people have lost all of their belongings to the floods that affected approximately 850 homes - some of them with water up to the roof.

A call for donations has gone out for canned food, bottled water, clothes and shoes that are in good condition, packages of diapers, as well as bedding and mattresses, medicines, dry food, milk (powdered or tetra pak). Also, cleaning supplies of all kinds, clorox, disinfectants, mops, brooms, garbage bags.

Aid collection points have been established in the following locations:

  • In Colon: At the municipal offices.

  • In Capira: At the municipal offices.

  • In Arraijan: At the municipal offices.

  • In Chorrera: At the municipal offices, as well as the San Francisco de Paula church.

  • In Panama City: At the municipal offices (Hatillo building), at the offices of the Red Cross in Albrook, at channel 2 TVN (Tumba Muerto near the USMA university), at channel 13 Medcom (Ave 12 de Octubre), also at Super Xtra and Super 99 (all locations). And, the office of the First Lady has established a collection effort at the Parque Omar on Via Porras.

  • In San Miguelito: At the municipal offices, as well as Machetazo in the Gran Estacion.

  • In Juan Diaz: At the Nuestra Señora del Carmen Church.

Editor's Comment: Please make some kind of a donation if you can. And if you can't, at the very least please send this article around to someone else who might be able to help. My wife is coordinating an effort through her church, and tomorrow we will be gathering up donations to drop them off at one of the collection points. We're also going to buy some cases of food and diapers at the Pricemart to donate, and she's busily raiding the closet for clothes and shoes as well.

Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Recovery and Relief Efforts Continue After Flooding in Panama (Video)

WeatherBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Rescue and recovery operations continue in Panama, as authorities continue to respond to the heavy rains and flooding that have hit the country. At least five people have died. Two were buried when a landslide came down on their house. Two Red Cross rescue workers were buried in their vehicle when a 100 meter long section of the Transistmian Highway collapsed in Quebrada Ancha. And another man died when he fell into a stream swollen by flood waters.

A total of 800 homes were affected to one degree or another by flooding. Some had water as high as their roofs, and residents lost all of their belongings. Businesses were also affected, especially near the Inter American highway in La Chorrera.

The President of Panama Ricardo Martinelli called for an extraordinary session of the National Assembly, in order to approve emergency funding for disaster response. The government will also ask for an increase to the debt ceiling, which is limited by law and the Constitution, in order to obtain more funding for emergency disaster response.

This afternoon more rains fell, as rescue workers organized an effort to find the two Red Cross workers who were swept down a hill by a landslide when a section of the Transistmian Highway which connects the city of Colon with the capital Panama City gave way. Centers have been established to receive donations of goods and clothing for the victims of the flooding.

Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Martinelli Will Call Special Sessions For National Assembly To Approve Emergency Aid Funding

WeatherThe 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)

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