At least 5 people have died and one is missing after the serious floods that have devastated entire towns in the Emilia Romagna region, in northeastern Italy, and where there are more than 5,000 evacuees and major problems in electricity, telephone service and in feasibility.
The Italian Civil Protection Minister, Nello Musumeci, gave a first assessment of the situation in the area at a press conference, which he defined as “critical”, but which could improve this afternoon with the cessation of the rains.
In total, 24 towns in the region have been flooded, especially in the provinces of Forli, Cesena and Ravenna, because “all the rivers of Emilia Romagna have overflowed.” Schools and other activities remain closed, as well as regional rail traffic. The Formula 1 Grand Prix that was held these days in the area has also been cancelled.
Musumeci pointed out that “the average rainwater that fell in the last 36 hours was 200 millimeters and in some areas it reached 500 millimeters, which gives an idea of the amount of rain that has fallen since the average for the entire season is 1,000 millimeters”.
For the minister, both these floods and those that were experienced in the same region just a couple of weeks ago “is something that has few origins.” The evacuees are close to 5,000 and could be more throughout the day, added the head of Civil Protection.
He announced that an inter-ministerial meeting will be held today to take some measures such as the state of emergency that involves the suspension of tax payments or legal proceedings, as is normal for areas that have suffered floods, as well as financial aid and that this morning there was a video call with the Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni.
In the area, 700 units of the Fire Department, 300 police officers and a thousand carabineros are operating, as well as 220 volunteers from the Red Cross, 100 from Socorro Alpino and some 340 from Civil Protection.
Viability on provincial roads is critical, with many areas cut off, while sections of the A14 motorway, which runs along the Adriatic coast, have also had to be cut, as has regional rail traffic “completely blocked”, while running without national rail traffic and high-speed lines are a problem.
The floods have left nearly 50,000 users without electricity, while another 100,000 have problems with their mobile phones and another 10,000 with fixed lines.
Geologists warn about flooding
The serious floods have been generated by a situation “that had never occurred since the postwar period.”
“The perfect storm has arrived; Never since the postwar period had such a situation occurred. The Emilia Romagna Weather Alert had been warning us of the situation for a few days,” said the president of the Emilia Romagna Order of Geologists, Paride Antoline.
“We spent May 15 with beautiful sunshine, it seemed impossible, but from the early hours of May 16 the first drops began and then the deluge,” he explained, before adding that the situation is serious both in the coastal area as in the interior, “where the torrential course causes serious damage, erosion of the banks and widespread overflows.”