sexta-feira, fevereiro 29, 2008

Thunder! Lightning! Floods! Stranded cars! (HEAD LINE)

Last night we had a huge "big boomer," as my Bryan-Dad would call it. It's a rare thing here, thunderstorms. Not sure if that's a common coast thing or not, having only lived in MI before coming here, I grew up with thunderstorms and tornados and thought them a normal part of summer.

Here it's a big event. People get scared. And for good reason - these kinds of storms bring big rain, and despite this rain being a fairly common kind of event on a monthly basis, there is yet to be a good drainage system in place for most of the city, so entire major roadways flood (those of you in MI area, imagine what would happen if suddenly I-94 completely flooded out and all that traffic had to find another route for about 5 hours), walls collapse, sewers over flow, and mudslides in favelas kill 10's of people. Not the mention the accidents caused by the water standing on the roads, cars that entered and got stuck, sitting abandoned, or floating away to run into someone or something.

My husband told me an interesting story of his drive home yesterday. There is a major vein road called ACM (Antonio Carlos Magalhaes)that connects the Orla (the road that runs along the coast) and the road that runs to the airport (called Parallela) that ALWAYS floods during rains like this, always in the direction of those headed for the coast. What usually happens is that the traffic some how finds it's way onto the opposing side driving the wrong way and after a few horn beeps, everything seems to work out. Apparently it was so bad last night that traffic couldn't even flow on the Parallela bound side and it was all forced onto a side street that runs parallel to this road. This road is a one-way, Parallela bound road as well. Now that you read all that and didn't understand it, you can check out this map, zoom in, and try to see what I'm talking about if you so desire. If not, read on.

View Larger Map

What apparently happened is that the traffic from ACM ocean bound quickly diverged itself onto this road going the wrong way, while traffic going the right way (ACM airport bound) did the same in the opposite direction, both with the intent of getting the freak out of the mess of flooding, undrivable road. So this basically amounts to 4 lanes of traffic in each direction (2X4 = 8 lanes total) packing itself onto a 4 lane street with almost no roads to turn off on to, and meeting in the middle, nose to nose, and nobody could do a damn thing about it. You couldn't very well drive over the cars in front of you, but you couldn't back up either because the cars just kept coming up behind you trying to escape the flooded road. So you had another complete blockage. Like someone cut off all routes between the Orla and Parallela, because basically that is what happened.

My husband, by some miracle witnessed this and didn't get stuck in it (no idea how he managed that), thought it might be a good idea to call the traffic police to come direct traffic and get it moving again. So he called and called and no one every picked up. So he called the local cops (Policia Militar) and had the following conversation:

(phone rings)
(someone picks up but says nothing. There is back ground noise and some people talking)
My Husband - "Hello? Hello...."
Random Dude - "Hello!"
My Husband - "Ummmm, is this the Military Police?"
Random Dude - "Uh, yes, yes, it is."
My Husband - "Well, see, there is a huge huge cluster fuck of a traffic jam here and I tried calling the Traffic Police, but they don't answer. I thought maybe you could radio them or something and let them know that someone needs to ...."
(Dude interrupts) "You need to call the Traffic Police."
My Husband - "Yeah, look, I did that and no one picks up, but something has to be done here..."
Random Dude - "Uh, yeah, thanks brother, thanks."

I seriously doubt that anyone was called or notified. I suppose eventually the mess worked itself out. They almost always do. But lots of people were hurt last night, from flooding, falling, stranding. One of my coworkers had to walk all the way home in hip deep water because she couldn't get a bus home from class, then she fell down a mud hill and hit her head. We read today that the ambulance service here had no power last night, so they received no calls and were unable to be dispatched to help anyone.

And this is modern?

If someone could just figure out how to make a drain work properly, we could avoid all this.

Be sure to check out THIS WEEK IN BAHIA later for videos of the river that was a street near my house, tidal waves by buses, and some nice shots of the street on a normal day for comparison.

4 comentários:

Leo disse...

Great post! I'm so happy you used one my favorite words, "cluster fuck", in a sentence, and with proper context and dictation. Que demais!

Wanna go to the craft fare Sunday? I need to pick up my necklace, and I had a great time last time. ;-P

Karin(a) disse...

I'm looking forward to watching the video of the "river" near your house! I couldn't find it in your other blog.

Anônimo disse...

Yo ho ho, Even Brazil needs RAIN GARDENS. and Huck Finn rafts in the meantime.

A.L.R. disse...

OMG I almost died last night. Don't know if I got food poisoning or caught the flu bug lingering around your den. My puked soooo many times and my body is just recked. And there is no chicken noodle soup in this blimmin' sitty to comfort me. Bah!