Comodoro Rivadavia, in Argentine Patagonia, also known as the Oil capital of the country is estimated to have experienced an 80% destruction of the city, according to a first report from an Army engineers' battalion sent to set up bridges and repair highways. The city suffered a week of historic torrential rains (330mm) and strong winds with flooding, mudslides which swept away with bridges and tracts of roads and major highways.
Mud and water continue to cover most of the city's streets and emergency centers have been set up at schools, churches, clubs, neighbor centers, with hundreds waiting for daily rations, clothing but most desperately, praying for the end of rain and the return of sunshine.
One of the neighborhoods, Caleta Cordova, with an estimated 5.000 middle class people finally will be able to purchase food and other provisions following the mounting of a Bailey Army bridge which again connected it with the city. Until now provisions arrived by sea to the beach in Zodiacs or Army heavy trucks. A major pluvial pipe which did not resist the outburst of the water lies among the debris as witness of the magnitude of the disaster.
In three other neighborhoods, a majority of houses are under a meter deep mud, and a road linking to the city, Camino Peron, has seen three kilometers completely washed away by flooding. In Juan XXIII, a high middle class neighborhood, mud and rocks are blocking access and most residents have self evacuated.
According to the Army reports most services in Comodoro are down, and the beaches and sea front usually with crystal blue color water now looks more like the River Plate, brownish and muddy because of the tons of sediments washed in together with garbage and debris from the city.
Likewise the Chico river, 150 kilometers from Comodoro and which is normally dry, now is 400 meters wide and flowing strongly, something which did not happen since 1970.
The report says that 1.600 people are living in refuge centers, while an estimated 5.000 left their homes and are with relatives or friends. The Army has deployed 200 men, 30 all terrain vehicles and even two armored personnel carriers, while another 500 personnel are expected this week.
Our main job is to rebuild connections while we distribute food and water, and rescue people which still remain in their homes, said the Army commander Varela, responsible for operations in Comodoro Rivadavia. We will have to remain in the city for some time.