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Rainy season puts more of the Centro’s historic homes at risk

Municipal officials in Merida intervene to prevent houses from collapsing

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A casona on Calle 65 and 44 collapsed in heavy rains in 2017. Photo: Diario de Yucatán

Merida, Yucatan — Hoping to avoid another rainy season that topples some of the Centro’s crumbling mansions, the city is asking property owners to check the condition of their casonas.

The Merida Directorate of Urban Development, in coordination with the Ministry of the Interior and the Civil Protection unit of the City Council, reminded property owners that older houses are more vulnerable during times of constant rain.

Several historic houses have been lost when their exposed roofs and walls couldn’t hold up to the summer’s wet weather.

So far this summer, the city has intervened with three properties, which have been repaired, said a Merida city official, Federico José Sauri Molina. The work was carried out with authorization from both the property owners and with the supervision of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH)

The city is working with INAH to determine where minor repairs or major interventions — such as fencing off the property from the sidewalk or even a partial demolition — are needed to protect pedestrians, said Sauri.

Most interventions so far have involved fixing or replacing the decorative crowns that rim each home’s roofline. Those can chip off the facade and land on the sidewalk.

The main problem managing properties in the Historic Center is many are intestate, meaning the owner died without a will. It is complicated in Mexico for a city to seize a property that could rightfully belong to the owner’s surviving family members or descendants.

Merida’s 3.5-square-mile Historic center is one of the largest in Latin America. A survey of the Centro counts about 20,000 properties of historic value.

With information from Sipse

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