viernes, 17 de junio de 2011

Epecuen, Argentine Ghost Town

The road between the trees leads to the main entrance of the Grand Hotel Park. The plants are dry and white. You have to walk carefully because the floor is cracked, with roots, bricks, fallen walls and peeling. The two-story building still stands but is in ruins. Opposite the hotel structure Monterreal falters. You see the damage he caused while he was submerged nitrate under ten feet of water. The two moles of cement on the corner of Mitre and Avenida 25 de Mayo.
There lie, stand the test of time. At the four sides is the same postcard: collapsed houses, corroded iron and desolation. To the south, to the naked eye, only rubble and mud mixed with water and more water then. It reaches a glimpse of the tower complex that the municipal government pools built as part of a project to attract youth in the 70's. It was the golden era of resort spa Sea Epecuén before a flood ended the dreams of the 1500 people who lived there.

The morning of November 10, 1985 precipitated an outcome sudestada the force of water and drilled an embankment protecting the people of a lake that was collapsed by 1500 mm of rainfall that year.
From that night the image of the people changed. The water level rose an inch per hour and two weeks later had two meters of water. Residents, resigned, had to abandon homes, hotels and shops in a few days, without choice. Most of the villagers settled in Carhué, a village of ten thousand inhabitants that is located 12 kilometers from the town and 570 kilometers southwest of Buenos Aires. Until then, trucks and tractors took place moving an entire town devastated.
Epecuén had developed as a tourist destination since its inception, January 23, 1921. It was invaded by thousands of grandparents who sought relief in the saline to the problems in the bones, joints and skin. Also, hundreds of Jews who had chosen and adopted as a summer resort on the similarities of the properties of water to the Dead Sea. Until the flood came to have an accommodation capacity of 5000 beds in 220 establishments including hotels, guesthouses and hostels. The tourism industry also lived with the exploitation of the salt used in the business of pharmaceuticals and the manufacture of glass.
The beginning of the end. In 1975, the provincial government built the canal Ameghino, an engineering feat that linked several basins and regulating the flow of water in all ponds in the region. This system would dry up and no there was no risk of flooding. But it was not controlled more from the coup of 1976. "He turned on the tap, but not closed it again," Ruben Besagonil plotted, a former resident of Epecuén. What we tried to be the solution to a problem the village ended up condemning.
Since 1980 the gap grew between 50 and 60 centimeters per year and threatened to exceed the embankment built to protect the people. No one thought the worst, but the tragedy occurred and when the protection broke down, there was no turning back.
What happened to all the people? Although resigned to leave the town had to rebuild their lives as they could, anyway. Most will sued the provincial government. Some charge 50 percent of the value of the property and they could expect to receive their fair share, but 15 years later. "We were penniless, homeless and jobless. It was very difficult. You feel sad and helpless because it could have been avoided." Lamented Richard Zappia, another former resident, sitting on the rubble that was his hotel.
In the last five years, the water fell several feet and now there are few blocks flooded. The people are rising from a flood is expected next summer all the ruins are on the surface. Offer a different appeal: will only be the memory of what was once the epicenter of tourism in the region.

Source La Nación

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