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Here in northern Toscana and Liguria we’re all still pretty much in a state of shock after last week’s devastating flash floods, and in terms of blogging it’s difficult to think of much else.
In our little village near Pontremoli we were pretty much cut off from the rest of the world for a few days and it was difficult to get a clear overview of what had taken place. When the internet and phones started working again we began to hear stories and see videos that showed us the true extent of the devastation.
My uncle Luciano’s family are originally from the beautiful Cinque Terre village of Vernazza, and in fact still have an apartment in the main Piazza. We know Vernazza well, and were particularly shocked therefore to see the following video. The report is in Italian, but I’ve included an English translation. Click on this link to watch the video: Vernazza after the flood
Reporter: We’ve managed to reach Vernazza with the coast guard, and here the devastation is truly frightening, far more so than in Monterosso al Mare. We are more or less on the course of the river, this was a road before, this is the Vernazzola torrent and it has carried down a frightening amount of detritus and mud.
Reporter: This is probably the most impressive image of the devastation caused by the flooding of the 25th of October. Look, there’s a chimney, and a sign that says “Here is the house of Via Gavino number 21” which means in effect that we are above the house at the moment. This is the river of mud that has been carried down by the torrent, and what’s more you can also verify (the depth of the mud) by the street light poles, look, it’s really frightening.
Owner of the buried house: It was an old olive oil press, a mill, where there was the little bridge where the water ran and made the mill wheel turn, and we had completely restored it, we had made a proper house, very beautiful. Very beautiful inside as well, very pleasant, with a mezzanine floor … and now we’ve got nothing left.
Reporter: (women washing clothing in stream) Here one tries to wash what is possible, in one way or another, with the water from the torrent, which is now clean.
Reporter crouching near first floor balcony: Look here, the sign says ‘Post and Telecommunications’. If you didn’t know, it would be difficult to believe that under here was the post office.
Reporter interviewing a woman in the street: Did you ever imagine something like this?
Woman: No, I came this morning and I never thought it would be like this, I thought it would be disastrous, but not as bad as this
Reporter: Are you from here?
Woman: I have my mother in law who lived in that house over there, she’s missing, not yet found, and …. I’ve been coming here for 25 years and I’ve never seen anything like this, absolutely.
The rest of the video shows the main street in Vernazza with the buildings buried up to the first floor in mud an gravel.
I’ve spoken by phone to Uncle Luciano, who now lives in La Spezia. He told me that Vernazza can only be reached by sea and helicopter because the road has been destroyed. Yesterday he went there by passenger ferry from La Spezia to see his relatives and to check his apartment. Fortunately, his relatives are all O.K. although they have suffered a lot of damage, and their shop is buried under meters of mud. Luciano’s apartment has been spared because it’s on the second floor.
The big thing on everyone’s mind now is the massive unstable area of land above Vernazza, which is liable to give way at any moment … and more rain is predicted for this weekend. Speriamo bene!