Monday, December 13, 2010

Veneto's Flooding Crisis

A month ago a deluge of rain hit my area very hard. Flooding ripped through the province of Padua and Vicenza, not to mention areas of Treviso. The rain started hard on Halloween night, as I was complaining about my lanterns being blown out by the water. Then it just kept coming down: torrential and constant for over 36 hours. The mountains were spitting the water from every crevice. I happened to be there, in the Dolomites, for the beginning of it.

Then in the valley, the earth stopped absorbing the rain. The rivers couldn't handle the overflow. The tides pushed the fresh water back from spilling into the Adriatic. This meant FLOODING. The Bacchiglione River became one of the main culprits.

In my town of Noventa along the Piovegò, the bridge had about one foot of clearance before overflowing. Schools closed early in Padua on November 2nd. Other areas actually had water in their garages, basements and taverne (typical Veneto ground floor rustic dining rooms). Businesses were flooded out and farm land washed away. One of my clients from Veggiano had 3 meters (10 ft) of water in her family house.

For a video of Bovolenta's flooding effects as of November 6, click here. Casalserugo can be seen here, with a simple commentary in Italian. There is even a boat passing over what should be the road, during the video.

The region came under criticism for overbuilding many formerly agricultural areas, partly to blame for the water's effects. Several cities had been lazy about river bank maintenance and prevention work in recent years. After all, nothing like this has happened since 1966. There is a mixture of intense local pride to get back to work and recover the area and the need for help by the government and generous donations. The Veneto people are not used to "handouts" from anybody.

In the case you would like to make a donation to the cause within the nation, you can send an sms message to 45501 from a cell phone "Alluvione Veneto" (Flood in Veneto).The donation is for Euro 2,00.

For foreigners, please send donations to the Red Cross:

To the bank account: Conto Corrente del Comitato Regionale CRI del Veneto
Subject: "pro alluvione veneto"
IBAN: IT82 B063 4502 0100 6700 5001 62B

For the Italian Red Cross website: go here.

Time has passed but the groups are still raising funds and the work effort will go on for months, surely. During this Christmas season, think about helping the Veneto's recovery after November's flood.

Meanwhile here, the supermarkets and local government are inventing every way possible to raise money for the flood victims: matching gift donations and Christmas concerts.

Happy holidays and stay dry.

Image from flickr account Fritz Forelle at Ponte Pusterla (VI)