Thirteen deadcommunities flooded, crops destroyed: Emilia Romagna, a rich region of Italy, the country’s “arboreal garden”, measures the damage suffered by floods of rare intensity, an indication, according to the authorities and experts, of the transformation of the Mediterranean climate into a “tropical” one.

Twenty rivers and streams they overflowed and the waters rushed to the plains of the region of 4.5 million inhabitants, which are especially appreciated by tourists who visit historic cities such as Parma and Ravenna, its verdant landscapes, taste its gastronomy, or go to its Adriatic beaches.

According to Italian media reports, thirteen people died, although the authorities had not confirmed this number last night.

Over 10,000 inhabitants they were forced to leave their homes.


The whole of Italy is experiencing a rainy and wet May, but in the last few days Emilia Romagna has suffered incredible bad weather: huge agricultural holdings drowned, submerged under water and mud, grain and fruit fields were laid waste, pastures were lost, villages were swept away by mudflows, bridges collapsed , over 400 roads were submerged.


In some places, rains fell in a few hours that under normal conditions are recorded in a whole six months.

Damages are estimated to run into several billion euros — on top of what was estimated to have reached two billion euros from similar phenomena earlier this month.

“Five thousand agricultural holdings were found under water,” summarize local agencies.

Water wall

The mayor of Ravenna, Michele de Pascale, said yesterday that in some communities that had been evacuated residents were able to return to their homes, but in others people had to leave, as embankments and other works that hold back the water were in danger of giving way or to break.

The president of the Emilia Romagna region, Stefano Bonacini, yesterday compared the scale and consequences of the disaster to the earthquake that hit his region on May 20, 2012, when the cost of damages was estimated to exceed 10 billion euros.


Climate change to “tropical”

In the areas where the waters have receded, residents are trying to clear houses and streets that were covered by torrents of mud and filled with debris.

In the city of Lugo, Andrea Ancerani shows the mud marks inside his apartment, where a torrent has invaded. “No one here remembers experiencing anything like this. Last night things were very difficult, but today we are here, we are doing work and we are waiting for someone to come and clean the streets.”

Authorities and experts warn that disasters of this kind will become the norm. “Nothing will be the same as before, because the transformation of the climate into a tropical one, which has already been seen in Africa, is also affecting Italy,” warned Civil Protection Minister Nello Muzzumecchi.

Surprisingly, the May deluge hit a country facing chronic drought. So it is not even possible to replenish the water resources that were decreasing due to the thinning of the snow in the mountains and the decrease in the average precipitation, experts warn.

According to scientists, anthropogenic climate change increases the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, such as extreme heat waves, droughts, forest fires, extreme rainfall.

Flooding has caused the cancellation of the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Emilia Romagna, which was scheduled to take place at Imola on Sunday.