At least five people have died and thousands have been evacuated from their homes.
Rain, rain, nothing but rain for two days. Rivers have burst their banks, even small streams have turned into raging torrents, sweeping away everything in their path. Mud and rubble is on the streets, bridges and individual houses have collapsed, rescue workers bring people trapped in the floods to safety with inflatable boats or on their shoulders: In the Italian regions of Emilia-Romagna and Marche, a severe storm has killed several people. Civil Defense Minister Nello Musumeci spoke of at least five deaths on Wednesday. Thousands of people had to be brought to safety.
Photos and videos from the fire brigade and the Italian media also show how dramatic the situation is. There is the video of the completely flooded A14, one of the most important road connections in Italy. Many Germans use the autobahn to travel to holiday resorts in the Adriatic, such as Rimini. The newspaper La Répubblica shows the photographs taken by a firefighter at a point between the towns of Forlì and Faenza. Dirty brown water runs over the road in a huge, at least knee-high surge over the road, in the middle of the picture you can see the crash barriers.
There are also recordings from Bologna that show severe flooding. Normally, Bologna is the city of arcades, in the city center they allow you to stroll through the streets without getting wet, even in heavy rain. But now the floods are pushing up the manhole covers and the dirty water is pouring out over the streets. The Ravone, usually more of a creek, carries so much water that the city council has issued a warning that residents should go to the upper floors of their houses if possible.
It has been raining in the region for two days now – and the rain has hardly let up so far. It is already the second result of heavy rain within a short period of time. There had already been severe flooding in Emilia-Romagna at the beginning of May, and two people died. Before it looked very different: there was a drought in northern Italy. Very little rain fell both in the hot summer of last year and in the past autumn and winter, the river Po carried less and less water and almost dried up in some places. There is a risk of flooding, particularly when heavy rain falls on dry soil, since the soil cannot absorb the water.
The provinces of Ravenna, Forlì-Cesena, Rimini and Bologna are most affected by the current storm – and there in particular the cities of Faenza, Cesena and Forlì, as the Italian fire brigade announced. The fire brigade has been on 600 missions since Tuesday morning and was present with 400 firefighters. They rescued people who were trapped in their houses by the water, or motorists stranded in the water masses.
In the town of Cesena, where the Savio River burst its banks, emergency services rescued dozens of people stuck on the roofs of their homes. Pictures and videos from the fire brigade showed how entire streets were under water, mudslides blocked roads and fields resembled seascapes because of the water masses. According to civil protection, 14 rivers burst their banks in Emilia-Romagna alone, affecting 24 communities. The emergency services were deployed with helicopters – some people could be brought to safety in this way.
A number of long-distance and regional roads are closed or kept free for rescue vehicles. Several rail lines in the region have been disrupted. The high-speed line between Florence and Bologna is also affected; trains can run here, but only more slowly.
There were power outages in several parts of the city of Faenza, and there were also problems with the telephone connections. Italian mountain rescue teams are also working in the affected areas. A woman in Faenza reported how quickly the masses of water smoothed their way – within ten minutes, according to her, the water rose almost to the first floor of her house. “A neighbor of mine was alone in the house with four small children, she called for help and nobody came. We stayed with them all night, in their pajamas. The children cried. A disaster,” she is quoted as saying by the Ansa news agency.
According to Civil Defense Minister Musumeci, the government has already approved €10 million for initial spending and emergencies following the floods. Civil protection called on people to be very careful in the coming hours. People who have not been taken to safety should go to higher floors of buildings.
In view of the situation on site, Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni also expressed her “full solidarity” with the people in the affected regions. “The government is closely following the development of events and stands ready to take the necessary relief measures,” she wrote on Twitter.