Hidroituango: despite the low participation, authorities say that the balance of the evacuation drill in communities was positive

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Only 500 people out of an expected 3,500 participated in the initiative. However, for the authorities it was a success because they demonstrated their ability to deal with an emergency

Hidroituango: despite the low participation, authorities say that the balance of the evacuation drill in communities was positive

Photo: Government of Antioquia.

For 9 in the morning on Tuesday, November 15, an evacuation drill was scheduled in the municipalities of Valdivia, Tarazá, Ituango and Briceño , organized by the departmental authorities, EPM and the National Disaster Risk Management Unit (Dagran) to prevent any eventuality that could occur with the ignition of the first turbines of Hidroituango.

However, the reception was poor: of the 3,500 people from Of the riverside communities that were expected to participate, only about 500 did, according to the Dagran report. Most of the inhabitants stayed in their homes despite the shriek of the sirens, which were activated around 9:20 in the morning and sounded for around 20 minutes.

“People did not heed the call for the drill. We found it quite disrespectful on the part of the entities with which we have tried to speak about the non-compliance that has occurred in the communities,” Yeison Ladeu, a community leader from Puerto Valdivia, told the newspaper El Tiempo.

Despite the low participation, the authorities assured that the drill leaves a positive balance, because the different organizations showed their capacities to attend emergencies in the points where greater attention must be paid.

“We have some situations regarding the sirens, at some points they could not be heard; the evacuation routes, obviously, we have some difficulties due to the rain; and the meeting points there are also things to improve”, said Jaime Gómez, director of the Dagran.

Gómez arrived in Puerto Valdivia very early in the morning in the company of EPM personnel, the Fire Department and personnel from the Valdivia Mayor's Office to finalize details of the drill. There they organized themselves to direct the 22 meeting points; 19 were in Puerto Valdivia, two in Briceño, one in Tarazá and one in Ituango.

“Finally, close to 500 participated as well as 483 people between logistics and operational entities, therefore, this is a positive balance, it really was an exercise that had the participation of various entities where we were able to verify some conditions of the entire alert system with the that we have for this municipality”, explained the director of Dagran.

Although the day was described as positive by the authorities, area leaders stated that the communities are not willing to to evacuate, as long as the conditions for a safe movement and with the protection of their property are not guaranteed.

“We demand that all families who are going to be displaced have a census of all their belongings, so that what happened in 2018 in Puerto Valdivia does not happen, when the communities removed them from their properties, with the confidence that the army I was going to take care and many things were lost. This time they are not going to us like they took us out like animals, with lies, this displacement must be with all the guarantees,” Haiber Mejía, spokesperson for the Guardians of the Cauca River movement, told RCN Radio.

The communities also demand that the national government allocate a budget to cover the basic needs of the towns to be evacuated, taking into account that the local administrations have said that they do not have sufficient resources to cover such types of events.

On November 16, the governor (e) of Antioquia, Juan Pablo Pérez, will lead a Departmental Risk Management Council in Medellín to define the tests for the entry into operation of the Hidroituango megaproject.