11 dead, afflicted towns, ruined crops… All this while the level of about 20 rivers rose in the plains of this region, which has a population of 4.5 million people, which is famous for tourists for its historical cities such as Parma and Ravenna, and for its green landscapes, gastronomy and sea coast. Adriatic.
Italy is experiencing a particularly rainy and cold month of May, but a real flood has hit Emilia-Romagna in the past few days, flooding huge agricultural areas and destroying grain fields, orchards and livestock fodder markets. Entire villages were swept away by muddy floods, while bridges and 400 roads collapsed.
In a few hours, the equivalent of six months of rain fell. Damages are estimated at billions of euros, in addition to an estimated two billion euros after the floods that hit the region at the beginning of the month.
The damage in the fruit sector alone amounts to 1.2 billion euros, according to the agricultural association Coldiretti.
The federation said today that “five thousand farms are now submerged in water,” referring to “nurseries and barns whose animals have drowned, in addition to tens of thousands of hectares of vineyards, and others planted with kiwi, apples, vegetables and grains.”
Eleven people died in the floods and more than ten thousand people were forced to leave their homes. Among the victims was a couple who were swept away by water while checking their lawns. The body of the 60-year-old woman was found on a beach 20 kilometers away, according to media reports.
Today, the mayor of Ravinia, Michel de Pascal, indicated that the residents of some of the evacuated towns can return to their homes, while others must evacuate, due to the dams that threaten to collapse.
On Thursday, Stefano Bonacani, head of the Emilia-Romagna region, compared the scale and repercussions of the disaster to the earthquake that struck the region on May 20, 2012, causing material damage estimated at more than ten billion euros.
The Italian Armed Forces and the Coast Guard joined the emergency efforts, and helicopters and rubber boats were deployed to reach homes surrounded by water. Today, 26,000 people are without electricity.
Residents worked to clean up mud-covered houses and debris-strewn streets, after the water receded.
“I have lived here since 1979, I have experienced floods, but I have never seen anything like this,” Cesena resident Eduardo Amadori told AFP on Wednesday.
For the authorities and experts, these exceptional disasters will become the norm. And the Minister of Civil Protection, Nilo Musumechi, warned on Wednesday that “nothing will be the same as before, because the shift in tropical weather is affecting Italy as well.”
Ironically, these torrential rains are hitting a country that is chronically affected by drought. However, it will not make it possible to reduce the water deficit associated with the scarcity of snow in the mountains and the average precipitation, the specialists warned.
These floods led to the cancellation of the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Emilia-Romagna, which was scheduled to take place on Sunday, due to the alarming rise in the level of a river near the circuit.
And near the circuit, Frans Wijnen, who came from the Netherlands to watch world champion Max Verstappen, on Thursday, saw that the postponement of the event was inevitable.
“I respect the decision of the organization and the local authorities. People have lost their lives in the neighborhood and the number of victims continues to increase,” he told AFP.