Saturday, February 20, 2010

Heavy Rain and Flooding in Buenos Aires? We Must Be Joking

We left our hotel around 4:00 p.m. yesterday for the 20-minute cab ride from Puerto Madera to Palermo to stock up on wine for our cruise at the wine merchant recommended by our neighbors back in Birch Bay. More on that in the next post, but our excursion featured copious quantities of that other vital liquid, H20. In other words we encountered one heck of a storm.

Our taxi driver on the way there proved to be somewhat crazy, certainly lost, and our "20-minute" cab ride consumed most of an hour. The driver, after warning me something about not wearing my "gold" wristwatch, borrowed our map several times to figure where he was going, sometimes while blocking traffic in the middle of an intersection. He eventually called the wine merchant, who tried to give him directions and subsequently told us was quite rude. He talked to himself a lot and kept explaining things to us in Spanish, and we were rather surprised to eventually pull outside the wine shop, as the taxi driver admitted he's been "stupid."

This all happened as a torrent of rain continued to fall and the streets of Palermo, the neighborhood where the wine shop is located, were flooding from backed-up storm drains.

Once we'd bought our wine (again, more on this later), our host tried in vain to find a cab or any kind of car to take us back to the hotel. We helped him a few small boxes of wine from his ground-level entry way up a few steps as the waters were already lapping up to the door of his shop. He eventually directed us over to a nearby gas station, after his wife reported that the power might soon be turned off to the neighborhood for safety reasons. We soon found a formidable cab driver who drove us through some incredible scenes back to the Hilton within 20 minutes in absolutely terrible conditions.

The streets were flooded at the edges and pedestrians were walking in water up to their knees. We lost count of the number of partially submerged parked cars we passed along the way. We called out Muy Bueno every time our driver navigated us through a roundabout clogged with stalled vehicles and had no hesitation in paying him twice the fare showing on the meter when we pulled into the Hilton, for which we received a big smile and a muchas gracias.

We weren't surprised to read this morning in the Buenos Aires Herald that the rainfall in this two-hour period totaled somewhere around 5-6 inches. At some point in the afternoon the rainfall was measured at 80 millimeters or 3.15 inches. Today's weather forecast is also ominous.

We noticed that somebody has already posted a YouTube video that gives a graphic picture of the flooding in Palermo.

We gather that some level of government is trying to tackle the infrastructure problems, e.g. storm drains, that lead to such flooding, but it will be some time until there's a solution. Not surprising to hear that some residents were out demonstrating in the middle of the storm.

We also managed to snap a few photos of the TV coverage, and a shot of an unfortunate fellow at the gas station clad in garbage-bag leggings trying to dry out his car...

1 comment:

Unknown said...

It was crazy!!! I could not balieve my eyes when this happen, I mean, come on, we are on the 21st Century in a big city like Buenos Aires and these things still take place. I have got to tell you, I am staying in an apartment in buenos aires in the neighborhood of Palermo and everything became flooded. Water got inside our building. I have never seen anything like this. Of course the government is saying that they will do something, I don´t believe a single word.
Anyways, I am having the best time in Argentina, I hope you too.