Home » Floods in Chile: ‘a Country Used to Natural Tragedies’
America Climate Floods Latin America News

Floods in Chile: ‘a Country Used to Natural Tragedies’

Major floods devastated seven regions in central Chile last week, as reported by db, and wineries are now reckoning with the aftermath of the disaster. La Ronciere in Maule details how it is dealing with a town “under water”.

Flooding in central Chile last week left vineyards underwater, and a red alert was issued in some areas of the country.

The winemaking regions of Maule and Bíobío have been severely affected, with vineyards reportedly underwater, as well as the areas of Valparaíso, Santiago Metropolitan, O’Higgins, Ñuble and Araucanía, Chile’s disaster agency, Servicio Nacional de Prevención y Respuesta ante Desastres (SENAPRED), has said.

Retiro in the Maule region has recorded 156.6mm of rainfall since the start of the severe weather on 23 June. The region’s average annual rainfall is 735mm, meaning the region has experienced 21% of its yearly average rainfall in just six days. San José de Maipo in Santiago Metropolitan Region recorded 126.4mm of rain, and Concepción in Bíobío Region recorded 97.6mm.

La Ronciere, located in the rural area of Licantén in Maule, was one of the wineries affected by the flooding. The town of Licantén sits alongside the Mataquito River at the foothills of the Coastal Range. Water running down from the mountains burst the banks of the river, causing the surrounding fields, and a major part of the Licantén town, to flood.

Maria Merani, export director of La Ronciere, told the drinks business that the winery was “very lucky”, with only a few of its 110 hectares of vineyards affected by the floods “because the major part of our vineyard is located on slopes”. Its vines are located 1km away from the river, meaning the extent of the damage was kept to a minimum, but the nearby town suffered a much greater effect.

“But this tragedy is not about us, but about the Licantén community, whom we know and share daily since we arrived in 2011 to create a vineyard in an unknown terroir. It is devastating to see how the town, its houses, its hospital, its school, were all under water,” Merani said. “You just can’t stay indifferent.”

The winery listed its vineyard as a safe place for people to gather in the wake of the disaster last week, and put a call-out on its Instagram page requesting waterproof boots, toiletries, clean drinking water and household items like cutlery and plates and glasses to be donated.

“Chile is a country that is used to natural tragedies. If they are not earthquakes, they are fires, or now floods,” Merani lamented.

Widespread wildfires in the southern regions of Chile caused major losses in the Itata Valley in particular, and the flames that swept over southern Chile in early February left 300 hectares of vineyards in cinders, according to official figures.

Winemakers across the country were able to rise above the devastation, but will they be able to do the same in response to the floods?

Merani says she believes Chileans are born with a “gene of solidarity” as a result of the regularity of natural disasters. “As soon as the magnitude of the damage began to be understood, in the early hours of last Saturday, we understood that we had to organise ourselves and do something,” she said.

“The first thing was to open the doors of our house in Licantén to accommodate some affected people and to organise ourselves to function as a collection facility, to receive the donations that arrive directly in the area,” La Ronciere’s export director told db. The winery has received support from people in Santiago and is providing machinery for cleaning the fields, internal roads and access to homes.

Floods in Chile: 'a country used to natural tragedies'

“In short, the needs are many, and one is like an ant in this chain, trying to cooperate according to our possibilities.”

La Ronciere is the only winery located in the rural area of Licantén, but Merani told db she believes that many other grape producers and wineries have been affected by the floods across Chile.

the drinks business has reached out to Wines of Chile to find out more about the extent of the flood damage.

Source : The Drinks Business