Flooding in Mexico City after yesterday's rain. Flooding in Mexico City after yesterday's rain.

Rain snarls traffic, shuts down airport

Transportation suffers as another deluge strikes Mexico City

Heavy rain late yesterday paralyzed the metropolitan area of Mexico City, bringing parts of the city’s road network and public transport system to a standstill and shutting down operations at the airport for several hours, affecting thousands of passengers.

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The airport ceased operations at 6:40pm due to flooded runways, resulting in the cancelation of 18 flights. About 150 Mexico City-bound flights were either diverted to other airports including Querétaro, Toluca, Morelia, Guadalajara, Cancún and Acapulco, or didn’t take off.

Operations returned to normal at approximately 11:30pm.

The capital’s water and sewer utility, Sacmex, reported that the city’s drainage system reached its maximum capacity and the tributary Río de los Remedios, located on Mexico City’s border with México state, burst its banks and flooded neighborhoods in the Gustavo A. Madero borough. At least three vehicles were caught up in the flooding.

Up to 64 millimeters of rain fell in the area, more than double the 30 millimeters the drainage system can handle, authorities reported.

The deluge also affected other boroughs of the city: 174 homes in Venustiano Carranza were inundated when the Pensador Mexicano neighborhood flooded for the second time in as many days. Ten Vactor sewer cleaning trucks worked to unblock drainage systems in the area.

Sewer pipes burst in a neighborhood in the central Cuauhtémoc borough affecting five businesses while several roads flooded in the Miguel Hidalgo borough. A number of trees fell in Cuajimalpa and arterial roads in Iztapalapa were flooded. Five stations on two different subway lines were also closed, forcing some commuters to walk along a retaining wall beside a major thoroughfare to seek alternative transport.

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In nearby Ecatepec, state of México, 600 homes were damaged by flooding that the mayor blamed on Mexico City. The drainage system for the two is connected but the latter’s own flooding problems prevented it from opening floodgates that would have relieved the situation in Ecatepec, said Mayor Indalecio Ríos Velázquez.

It is not the first time heavy rain has caused havoc in the capital this rainy season. Several heavy rainfalls have been recorded including a deluge in late June that also forced the closure of key transport infrastructure and flooded people’s homes.

Flooding is a common occurrence in Mexico City during the wet season, which runs from May/June through to October with an inadequate drainage system that hasn’t kept up with population growth as well as improper garbage disposal that blocks drains.

A massive wastewater tunnel described as the biggest sewer project in the world, intended to help alleviate flooding in Mexico City, is currently five years behind schedule and its multi-billion-peso budget has doubled.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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