Marcela Cansino was one of the officials of the Department of Social Services who, together with all the staff of the department, did what now seemed at least a miracle: that in less than a week aid began to be granted to the victims of the flood of 31M.
This worker, recently retired from the Santa Cruz City Council, remembers that on Easter Sunday she was at home when the storm hit, a prelude to what was to come for her work. From the first hour of Monday, April 1, the attention to those affected by the rains began to be planned. Mobile phones were not common then, nor was the Internet a medium that was as well established as it is now, so it was necessary to improvise and design some records that would allow the needs to be compiled in great detail, as well as the donations made.
From Cecopal, the Social Services area was coordinated by Carlos Alonso Fernández-Aceytuno, who gave the instructions that on that same April 1, two shelters would be set up for people affected by the rains who had lost their belongings or their homes. “That same day we began to visit the neighborhoods. The working days began at seven in the morning and until after eleven at night we did not return to our homes, “explains Marcela.
“There were those who even refused to leave their home in Valleseco that had cracks”
The social services of the Santa Cruz de Tenerife City Council were in charge of processing the aid of 2,000 euros per family for the victims, which was enabled by the Cabildo de Tenerife, and which was distributed in a week, apart from the contributions made from other administrations. It was about giving an immediate response to those who had lost their belongings or appliances: their lives.
The Social Services staff got involved in these tasks to help the neighbors, even the assistants acted as a driver, in some cases with their private vehicle, to visit the affected homes, some of which were difficult to access because they had to overcome the mud.
Together with the Municipal Emergency Plan (PEMU) that had just been approved eleven days earlier, Marcela Cansino considers the coordination that presided over the relief tasks to the most affected people to be fundamental, which allowed the plaintiffs’ files to not be duplicated. of the aids. She also appreciates the help received from the College of Social Workers and the City Council of La Laguna, which made themselves available to her colleagues from Santa Cruz.
In the Social Assistance area of the capital, two coordination meetings per month were held daily, where all resources were focused on attending to the victims of the flood and those cases that could not be postponed.
This person in charge of the social services unit was precisely in charge of preparing the reports on the death of the eight victims left by 31M: Berta Martínez Jerez, Jesús Domingo Galván, Manuel Ramos González, La Niña Samantha Mendoza, Juan Carlos Rodríguez García, Gregorio Ramón Travieso, José Domingo Rodríguez and Diego Santana. Among the victims, Manolo, a newspaper seller who lost his life when he went to the aid of a man who was dragged by the water; he saved him – apparently he had done the same thing with another person before – but he could not end up trapped under a car, a situation that Cansino credited.
The then Councilor for Social Services, Rosario Pino, highlighted the dedication of her department’s staff, who even had to convince a family that refused to leave their house in Valleseco, even though it had cracks. For the mayor it was devastating to see people stripped of everything.