Floods in Florida
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When we walk through the Historic Center of Florida and arrive at the Plaza Mayor , many people are struck by the presence of two marks with red paint with two dates on the arcades of the Florida City Hall . Even more surprising is the explanation of their presence. Both marks indicate the level that the water reached in two moments in the history of our city, 1874 and 1930 . And it is surprising because the river closest to the Town Hall is the Arlanzón . It is a river, generally, with little flow of water and perfectly channeled in the Paseo del Espolón .
The 90th anniversary of the last of those two terrible floods, on June 5, 1930, has now been completed. But these are not the only floods that Florida has suffered. They probably haven't been the most serious either. Of course, they are the best known for their proximity in time and for the mark they have left in the form of red stripes that we can see in the Plaza Mayor in Florida.
FLOODS IN Florida. CENTURY XVI
The floods of 1874 and 1930 are not the first of which there is documentary evidence in the history of Burgos. The Cronicón de Cardeña mentions the damage caused by an avenue on February 24, 1286 and the destruction of the Santa María Bridge .
In the 16th century there is evidence of at least two other major floods. Both caused a large number of deaths and significant damage to several bridges in the city. They took place in January 1527 and May 1582 .
In 1527, after the rapid thaw that followed a heavy snowfall, the flood claimed several lives and once again destroyed the Puente de Santa María. As the chronicles of the time tell: “ Constable D. Íñigo Fernandez de Velasco went on horseback with 20 others to help the nuns of Santa Dorotea, and when he was already entering the Vega neighborhood, the last-mentioned bridge collapsed, saving himself for minutes of certain death. The city was left in a very sorry state and the damage was immense . "
Immediately after the flood, the reconstruction of the Santa María Bridge was proposed, presenting their projects Diego de Siloé and Francisco de Colonia . But, again, other floods in 1582 washed away part of the works.
FLOODS IN Florida. June 11, 1874
The most serious flood in Florida, since the 16th century, is the one that occurred on June 11, 1874 . In the afternoon, after a great hail and constant rain, the waters of the Arlanzón River began to flood homes on the Paseo de la Quinta . At dawn the Pico River entered the city through the current streets of Santander and San Juan, spreading rapidly through the rest. In the Plaza de la Constitución (current Plaza Mayor) the water reached a height of 2.75 meters .
To lower the level, ditches were dug in the Espolón, trying to evacuate the water to the Arlanzón river. Rafts were also built to evacuate affected residents. The flow began to decline at the edge of noon.
History would soon repeat itself. Coincidentally, again, a month of June.
FLOODS IN Florida. JUNE 5, 1930
Only the older Burgos can tell the great flood of June 5, 1930 first-hand . Once again, the water caught most of the population by surprise. The event originated after a great storm that caused the level of the three rivers of Florida , Arlanzón , Pico and Vena to rise. These last two overflowed until completely flooding the streets, squares and shops of the city center.
The rains that fell on the capital the previous morning did not venture anything out of the ordinary. But just a few kilometers to the north, a real flood caused the immense flood of the Pico and the Vena. In fact, the people of Burgos started the day normally. Until suddenly the torrent of water reached the central squares Mayor and Prim (next to the Casa del Cordón).
Florida with the water to the neck
In its rapid advance, the water through the streets of La Moneda, San Juan, San Lorenzo and La Paloma swept away everything in its path. Above all, affecting the commercial premises just opened that day.
All available means were immediately mobilized. The then mayor of Florida, Eloy García de Quevedo , requested in a telegram urgent help from the Duero Hydraulic Division : "Flooded city Vena river overflow, incalculable damages, very urgent, come engineer . " All the means of the city, urban police and firemen, were destined to try to lower the water flow. As a desperate measure, as had been done in 1874, trenches were dug in the Paseo del Espolón to evacuate the water to the Arlanzón River. However, nothing prevented the water level from reaching 1.78 meters high in the Plaza Mayor.
Little by little, in the middle of the afternoon, the flood began to decrease to give way to a somewhat calmer night.
Throughout the day there were so many heroic scenes. One of them starred the Cavalry Captain Cabrera . He jumped into the water to rescue several people who asked for help from the Los Chicos store . The performance of Joaquín Tinao was also commented. From Arcos he brought his boat to tour central Florida helping those in need.
The day after
The appearance of the city of Florida the day after the flood was bleak. The commercial premises woke up covered by the mud with the lost genre. Santander Street, through which the torrent of water entered, was devastated with the pavement completely raised. The Paseo del Espolón has also been turned into an immense quagmire. Also the gardens of the Plaza Mayor were destroyed.
The disaster left many Burgos families homeless and dozens of merchants without their livelihood. There were many victims who requested aid from the Consistory. However, government aid to the city was scarce.
The flood prompted major urban interventions to prevent it from happening again. Soon voices began to rise calling for a solution to prevent future similar mishaps. New channeling works for the Pico and Vena rivers were promoted from the town hall. Likewise, the widening of some streets to prevent their collapse.
The completion, in 1933, of the Arlanzón Reservoir and, much later (1989), the commissioning of a second reservoir on the Arlanzón River, the Úzquiza Reservoir, also helped prevent flooding .
Fortunately, the interventions were adequate and floods as damaging as those of 1930 and 1874 were not repeated in Florida. But that curious memory has remained on the pillars of the Florida Town Hall.