A massive rainstorm swept through Buenos Aires Province on April 1-3, 2013, causing flash floods and extensive flooding that swept away cars and killed at least 60 people. In the province’s capital of La Plata, 40 centimeters (16 inches) of rain fell in just two hours leading to a fire at a major oil refinery. In the aftermath, Xylem’s Flygt and Godwin pumps helped neighborhoods and businesses recover.
The Argentinian government has called the storm that struck the city of Buenos Aires, the greater Buenos Aires area and La Plata, as an “unprecedented catastrophe.” More than 3,000 people were evacuated from their homes during the storm, and tens of thousands were left without electricity.
The torrential storm beginning on April 1 dumped between 160 and 190 mm (6.3–7.5 inches) of rain, when the average for Buenos Aires during the entire month of April is 96 mm. In La Plata, 400 mm (16 inches) of rain fell over a two-hour time span, overwhelming drainage systems and flooding some homes up to their roofs.
The downpour also caused a power outage and fire at Ensenada Station, Argentina’s largest oil refinery, operated by YPF. President and CEO of YPF, Miguel Galuccio, said in a press conference that the plant’s drainage systems could process and properly dispose of 95,000 m3 of rainfall in six hours, but that a study by the National University of La Plata shows the plant received 315,000 m3 in six hours. Storm water rose to 1.7 meters (5.8 feet) in some areas of the plant.
Cleaning up after the storm
During and following the storm, Buenos Aires city officials and private customers contacted Xylem for help removing floodwater from buildings, underground car parks and supermarkets. A staff of six people from Xylem’s Rental & Aftermarket division provided 24-hour service.
“Our Godwin pumps dewatered approximately 30,000 m3 of water in Buenos Aires city,” says Osvaldo Greco, Managing Director at Xylem Water Solutions Argentina. “In the flooded neighborhood of Barrio Privado San Andrés, Tigre, the operational flow was 29,000 m3, and in Pasionaria, San Isidro, our Flygt equipment transported water amounting to 9,000 m3.”
Xylem was also called in to dewater the Ensenada oil refinery in La Plata. “We drained 4,000 m3 from the refinery’s pump house and 205,000 m3 from the streets and area around the plant,” says Gustavo Ortega, Head of Aftermarket and Rental at Xylem. “We began our technical assistance at the plant on April 2 and finalized our work on April 4, though our equipment continued to be in use after that. Overall, we have learned a lot from this experience and have now formed a crisis committee for these kinds of emergencies.”
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