The whole neighborhood is under water," said Gendarmerie squad leader Cristian Ariel Robles, "that's why all the neighbors are here, in the boxes. They know each other and they help each other a bit. "
Today their homes are under water. They are neighbors near Puerto Pilcomayo, families from the neighborhoods surrounding the El Porteño River, people who had to leave their homes in different areas of the city of Clorinda, while they watched the water rise.
"It's been 22 days since we've been here. We saw the water come and it grew fast. It rained a lot, and in less than a day it covered everything, "said Angelito, who built his box close to the access point where rafts are bound for Paraguay. And like him, hundreds of families built wooden boxes and tarpaulins on the high ground, on the sides of the road, where they can put their things they saved from the flood. And there they will wait until the water comes down.
In the post, at the end of the access area, are guards. One of them, the most experienced, Fernando Martinez, remembers that only 4 months have passed since those same families returned to their homes after a similar flood. "Until they lower the water and clean their houses, families do not return. They can stay up here for two months.”
Official reports placed the maximum level of the Paraguay River at 7.56 meters on April 19. By April 21, the level had dropped to 7.34. Martinez was optimistic, "now there is no storm alert and we believe that it will continue to fall at a rate of 1 centimeter per hour."
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Argentina conducted a Damage Assessment and Needs Analysis after the flooding. The national program director, Elián Giaccarini, saw the evacuated families receive a weekly water supply through 5 tankers. "Most families have drums of between 100 and 1000 liters (between 26 and 264 gallons) for the water. But they store it without caps, or taps. On many occasions the water is dirty or with rust or garbage.”
Based on the analysis, the national emergency response plan was activated. ADRA Argentina’s national emergency and disaster response team sent hygiene and water purification kits. Each kit contained basic personal hygiene material, in addition to necessary elements to make water drinkable with 156 Procter & Gamble drinking water sachets.
A group of volunteers from the Seventh-day Adventist Church of the city of Clorinda met to assemble the kits. After an explanation and demonstration of use of the kit, they delivered them to the families affected by the flood. The explanation and demonstration are necessary so that each beneficiary can give adequate instructions for the kits delivered. Volunteers also talked to the residents about the importance of hygiene habits during natural disasters.
María José Amigo, coordinator of the Integral Management of Disaster Risk for ADRA Argentina, led the operation from the field. There she met with several of the affected families to learn their situation, and listen to their concerns and needs. She also identified the strategic points to go and meet residents staying in abandoned cars to distribute hygiene kits to them as well.