Sancti Spiritus: Yayabo River Level Rose Sharply (+photos)

Jose Luis Camellon

After almost ten year time, the central Cuban territory of Sancti Spiritus has been again impacted by heavy rainfalls which led to the most spectacular ever remembered filling up of the local Zaza dam, Cuba’s largest water reservoir. Top leaders from the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR), the Civil Defense and the Central Army witnessed the complex situation of the province during the last few days.

The weather forecast was certain when announcing heavy rains no matter how delayed they would be. Finally, the intense and persistent cloudburst began Tuesday and lasted until Friday afternoon. According to Friday morning reports of 584mm (equivalent to 331% average/month) this month has been termed the rainiest May in history here.

Sancti Spiritus was confirmed as the island’s most impacted by the latest heavy rain territory. It was such determined in a meeting of the Provincial Defence Council held this Friday, which was presided over by Major General Ramon Pardo Guerra, head of the National Civil Defence in Cuba.

Ramón Monteagudo Ruiz, president of the Provincial Defence Council, toured the province with FAR Vice-President General Joaquín Quintas Solá, Major General Ramón Pardo Guerra and Major General and also Head of the Central Army Raúl Rodríguez Lobaina, in order to evaluate the situation as well as the different decisions adopted to face it.

The heavy rains led to the most spectacular ever remembered filling up of the local Zaza dam, since Wednesday morning the reservoir was reported to have 205 million cubic meters of water, and Friday afternoon stocks had gone up by over 1 030, 000 000m³ around 5:00 P.M.

Due to the sudden fill up of the dam -over 800 million in nearly 48 hours- the dam’s six spillways had to be opened since Friday morning. This decision led to the immediate evacuation of the over 6 000 people that live downstream the reservoir area.

The magnitude of the flood could be also measured with what was reported on the Zaza River. According to Rafael Rangel, from the Water Resources Bureau, this river was 15 meter high this Thursday, the second highest record reached ever. In 2002, this river went up to 17 meters.

As far as the Yayabo River is concerned, experts informed that its water rose up to 7,9 meters, the third highest height ever reported in this river.

As a whole, the province’s water stocks went up to 1 213, 000 000m³ this Friday noon, which represent 95% of its storage capacity. Besides the Zaza dam, other five reservoirs are running.

Heavy rains were particularly intense to the mid-south of the territory in locations like Condado, Topes de Collantes, Manaca-Izanaga, Sancti Spiritus and Trinidad. Until this Friday, several communities were reported isolated and floods forced to temporary evacuations in Sancti Spiritus, Trinidad, Cabaiguan and Yaguajay.

Unfortunately, two persons were reported missing after trying to go through flooded rivers in the municipalities of Fomento and Cabaiguan. They are French Alain Manaud and Silvestre Fortun Alvarez Lorenzo, from Cabaiguan.

Weather reports forecast an improvement in the weather conditions from this Saturday on, although rains are still possible.

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(photos: Vicente Brito/Escambray)

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