There was no light at the end of the tunnel on Saturday. It continued to rain in Emilia Romagna, and the civil protection once again extended the red alert for Saturday for 42 municipalities. By the end of Friday, the death toll from the wave of terrible weather that began on Tuesday had risen to 15: seven in the province of Ravenna, four in Cesena, three in Forlì and one in the Bologna area. Evacuations also continued, both in smaller towns like Forlì and bigger cities like Ravenna. For all others, the general recommendation remained the same: try to move to the highest floors of buildings.
The number of evacuees had risen above 15,000: half had found shelter in hotels and facilities provided by municipalities, the others had taken refuge in their second homes or with friends and relatives. The problem is that no one seems to have the slightest idea when they will be able to return. This is basically how it is in any emergency situation: people live one day at a time, although here the days are beginning to add up and everything that needs to be done to fulfill one’s basic needs leaves no room for any planning. In Ravenna, fear of new flooding led to the building of a veritable earthen wall in Via Faentina, in the Fornace Zarattini area, just a short distance from the center. Nothing like this had ever been seen before, and it speaks volumes about how dramatic the situation is: there is great fear about the rivers that have already flooded and which might do so again with the arrival of new rains, more or less intense.
Among the many kinds of emergencies, in addition to the many isolated towns, closed roads and rail traffic still paralyzed, the appeal by the mayors of the union of municipalities of Bassa Romagna stands out: food and drinking water are beginning to be in short supply.
Civil Protection Minister Nello Musumeci, in a video interview with Rete4, announced the allocation by the government of 10 million euros for the bad weather at the beginning of the month and another 20 million for the emergency that is still ongoing. The final approval will come only at Tuesday’s council of ministers. “The alert will remain active for several more days, given the precarious condition of the territory,” Musumeci said. “Landslides are the most insidious danger after a flood.”
The risk of landslides was also highlighted by Bologna Mayor Matteo Lepore, who, at least as far as his city is concerned, spoke of a slow return to normalcy, although people still couldn’t afford to let their guard down. “We have hundreds of landslides,” he explained. “For us right now, the priority is the movements of the earth, because with the rain, the mud keeps coming down. We have a hundred roads closed, some bridges that have collapsed and a lot of damage.”
Governor Stefano Bonaccini tried to strike a reassuring tone: “No one will be left alone. On Tuesday I will go to Rome and take the representatives of trade unions, business associations and all categories with me for a meeting with the prime minister and a number of ministers.” On a less reassuring note, Matteo Salvini planned to visit the disaster areas on Saturday. After he disparaged the situation in Emilia on Twitter by comparing it to that of his native Milan, and after he tried to place the blame “on those who say no to everything,” one could only hope that he would find it within himself to act according to his role as Minister of Infrastructure.
As for future reconstruction, the outlook remains uncertain. The proposal from Confcooperative to use NRRP funds, supported in part also by PD secretary Elly Schlein, seems to be off the table. Minister Raffaele Fitto was quite clear on the subject: “The Emilia issue deserves direct government attention. The NRRP has a different path: it does contain resources to deal with disruptions but they are for projects that are already specific.”
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