Italy’s recent torrential rains claimed 17 lives, left hundreds homeless, paralyzed businesses and caused millions of euro in damage. Residents in Genoa, the Cinque Terre and Tuscany’s Lunigiana and Elba island are still digging out the from the mud and debris left when heavy seasonal rains on October 25, November 4 and November 7 resulted in flash flooding, mudslides and landslides.
With still shots and videos, many residents documented the
devastation from their windows, balconies and rooftops. The Italian
government approved 65 million euro in emergency funds, and volunteers
are coming forward to help, either on the spot or through donations.
The worst-hit area in Tuscany was Aulla, in the Lunigiana. On October
25, some 500 millimetres of rain fell in just a few hours, causing
flash floods so powerful that the water swept away bridges, cars, trees
and trucks. As many of the area’s villages were hit by mudslides,
streets were engulfed in torrents of water, mud and debris.
The river that runs through the centre of Aulla burst its banks,
flooding nearby buildings and fields. The floodwaters killed two people
in Aulla and destroyed homes, businesses and the town’s theatre, library
and schools. As of November 4, there were 118 citizens without homes in
Aulla, 86 in Mulazzo and 6 in Pontremoli. Helicopters delivered food
and supplies from the Italian Red Cross to the isolated mountain towns
of Stadano and Parana in Mulazzo, Massa Carrara. Hundreds of people went
to Aulla to help flood victims dig out of the destruction, among them
were 70 ACF Fiorentina fans from Florence.
Two towns in the charming Cinque Terre area of Liguria, Monterosso
and Vernazza, were almost completely destroyed in the October 25
torrential rains and subsequent floods.
On November 4, Genoa was struck by flash floods when 356 millimetres
of rain poured down in six hours. Six people died. As hundreds of
families and businesses began the long, arduous process of digging out
of the mud and cleaning up the water, youth from across Genoa put on
rubber boots and pants and helped their fellow residents.
On November 7, as Tf went to press, Elba island was lashed with torriential rains and flooding that killed an elderly woman. The woman, an 81-year-old, apparently fell and hit her head in her ktichen, which was flooded. She died of injuries to the head. Another five residents were injured in the natural disater.
As we followed the events, however, what stood out most to TF staff was the positive response from people who were not directly affected by the catastrophe. A nationwide drive allows Italian cell phone users to donate 2 euro by texting 45500; the Italian Red Cross has also set up a specific fund to receive donations by bank transfer and credit card; see www.cri.it/emergenzaliguriaetoscana
Thousands of volunteers, many of them under 30 years, in Genoa, Aulla and the Cinque Terre pulled on rubber boots and got to work doing whatever needed to be done. These areas are going to need ‘mud angels’ as much as Florence did exactly 45 years ago. Remembering how the world responded on November 4, 1966, when so much of Florence was under metres of water, TF staff has set up an easy way for our readers to help flood victims in Liguria and Tuscany. Until December 15, 2011, anyone, anywhere in the world can donate 2 euro or more through TF to help support the rescue and clean-up efforts in Liguria and Tuscany. We will forward all donations to the Italian Red Cross fund for the Liguria and Tuscany emergency. Simply click here for instructions on how to donate: www.theflorentinepress.com/florence-flood-1966.
Those who donate through TF will receive a PDF version of our special issue commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Florence flood.
Our neighbours to the northwest need all the help they can get. We hope you will extend a helping hand. You never know when you may need one, too.
(updated on November 10, 2011)