As of today, it’s been raining intermittently for the past week in greater Buenos Aires, and the citizens are really starting to feel the consequences. While the storms haven’t been constant, they’ve been strong, much stronger than the city’s infrastructure can handle. On Thursday, about 2.4 inches of rain fell in the space of three hours. While that may not seem like all that much, the city’s drainage system can handle about half that, and within a few hours, the drainage channels that run underneath the city’s biggest avenues had started to overflow, creating scenes like this:
(picture from clarin.com) That’s the corner of Avenida Santa Fe and Avenida Juan B Justo, which is right by the center– and subway station– of Palermo, a large, fashionable neighborhood where most of the ex-pats living in BA seem to live. In Villa Crespo, another neighborhood, water was so high that it was flooding in through car windows. About half of the subway lines and commuter trains had to close for part of the day, and over 170 stoplights went out (having been an occasional pedestrian in Buenos Aires , I can assure you that this is terrifying). In total, about a third of neighborhoods were affected. Things seem to be improving, but they may well get worse again, since the rain is predicted to last through Sunday.
So what does this mean to me? Here in Lujan, 40 miles outside of the city, we certainly don’t have a massive infrastructure to worry about. However, when you work with an organization that does the brunt of its work on a construction site, it makes it hard to get anything done. One of the most important sources of labor for Habitat is the more-or-less-weekly flow of volunteer brigades who show up to build on Saturdays. My job is to prepare all of the logistical details in advance– create a work plan with the mason, make sure the work site has helmets, water, and safety supplies, etc. While this is a routine I don’t mind doing, it feels pointless to do knowing that the brigade will most likely be canceled, as was the case last week and will probably be the case tomorrow. In the meantime, I’ll just keep my fingers crossed and wait to see what kind of quilombo the worksite has become. (That’s some Argentine slang for “a big mess,” although the literal translation is more fun.)
Link to the newspaper article where I got the photos and information:
Tres horas de fuertes lluvias volvieron a paralizar la Ciudad