Italian garden under water, nine dead and much damage

Nine dead, stricken cities, devastated crops: Emilia-Romagna, a prosperous region considered the “Garden of Italy”, noted Thursday significant damage from rare intensity flooding, according to officials at the “tropicalisation” of the Mediterranean signal climate.

Around twenty rivers feed on the plains of this region of 4.5 million inhabitants, popular with tourists for its historic cities such as Parma and Ravenna, its lush landscapes, its gastronomy and its Adriatic coast.

Italy is experiencing a particularly rainy and cold month in May, but Emilia-Romagna has experienced a real deluge in the past few days: huge agricultural areas have been submerged under water, leaving grain fields in ruins , market gardening, fodder for cattle, entire villages were washed away by muddy floods, bridges collapsed and 400 roads collapsed, landslides hollowed out the relief.

Locally, the equivalent of six months’ rainfall fell in a matter of hours.

Damage will be calculated in the billions of euros, with an estimated two billion added after the floods that have already hit the region at the beginning of the month.

The fruit sector alone has a weight of 1.2 billion euros according to the agricultural confederation Coldiretti.

“Five thousand farms have ended up under water: greenhouses, nurseries, barns with submerged animals, thousands of hectares flooded with vines, kiwis, pears, apples, vegetables and cereals”, detailed the organization on Thursday .

– water wall –

The bad weather killed nine people and forced more than 10,000 residents to leave their homes.

A couple among the victims were swept away in a wall of water while inspecting their meadow. According to media reports, the body of a 60-year-old woman was found on a beach 20 kilometers away.

The rain stopped mid-afternoon on Wednesday and meteorologists are not expecting significant rainfall on Thursday.

The mayor of Ravenna, Michele De Pascale, indicated on Thursday that while residents of some evacuated areas could return to their homes, others had to be evacuated, threatening to break dams and banks of some rivers.

Stefano Bonacini, president of the Emilia-Romagna region, on Thursday compared the magnitude and consequences of the disaster to the earthquake that struck on May 20, 2012 and caused material damage of more than 10 billion euros. ,

The Italian Armed Forces and Coast Guard joined the emergency effort, deploying helicopters and inflatable boats to reach homes surrounded by water. 26 thousand people remained without electricity on Thursday.

– ‘Tropicalization’ –

Where the water receded, residents worked to clear mud-covered houses and roads littered with debris.

“I’ve lived here since 1979, I’ve seen the flood go, but I’ve never seen something like this,” Edoardo Amadori, a resident of the town of Cesena, told AFP in an interview on Wednesday.

For officials and experts, these extraordinary disasters will become the norm. “Nothing will be the same as before,” Civil Protection Minister Nello Musumesi warned on Wednesday as this process of tropicalisation, which is increasing in Africa, is also affecting Italy.

Paradoxically, these flows affected a country long plagued by drought. However, they will not be able to make up for the loss of snow in the mountains and the water deficit associated with average rainfall, experts warn.

The Formula 1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna scheduled for Sunday at Imola was canceled due to a worrying rise in the level of a river near the paddock.

Near the circuit, Frans Wijnen, who came from the Netherlands to watch double world champion Max Verstappen, speculated on Thursday that a postponement of the event was inevitable.

“I respect the decision of the organization and the local authorities. People have lost their lives here and the number of victims continues to rise”, the Dutchman, wearing an orange cap with a badge, explained to AFP. Italy in the colors of its country and country.

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