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FLOOD IN ITALY: SOUTHERN TUSCANY November 2012

Mud and garbage from the flood hitting Albinia in Italy's Tuscany region
The aftermath of the flood  in Southern Tuscany
 Town center of Albinia, near Orbetello

Exactly a week ago I turned around in bed whilst my Tuscan native said "why don't you keep the kids at home? It's still raining. This could easily turn into another flood". These Italians, I thought. A few drops of rain and the whole country goes to pieces. Haven't we prayed for rain for months? And back I went to sleep. 

An hour later I was woken with a homemade Cappuccino by the same man who had left for work early that morning. The road to Grosseto was off limits, as the bridge over the Ombrone river had been flooded. The only way to reach their building site in town would have been by trying out another access road to Grosseto. Looking at the overflown river bed and the incessant rain, they decided to call it a day. 

It took a shot of caffeine and a look outside the window to make me remember the damage and deaths the 2011 floods had brought to the area stretching from Northern Tuscany to Genova. Keeping the kids at home wasn't a bad idea after all. 


Blocked road from collapsed tree after incessant rain, Tuscany November 2012
Liberating our road after two days of  rain

Considering how much rain fell last Monday the balance in our village isn't too bad. We had to chop up a tree on Tuesday to free our access road and the farmers rightly complain about all the landslides they'll have to deal with in many of their fields.

Landslides; the results of 48 hours of rain in Tuscany's hinterland.
Our sheep farming neighbor's field after the November 2012 rain fall

However, massive damage has been done along Southern Tuscany's coastline. A short drive from Monte Argentario and Orbetello, Albinia has been hit badly. Five people died, countless houses and farms have been evacuated and an estimated damage of 200 million Euros has been done by the flooding waters  and mud the Albegna river carried to the coast.

All over the world experts talk about the impacts of climate change and predict a raising frequency in droughts and floods; or the interchange of the two, i.e. no or scarce rain for months and then the lot of it pouring down in the shortest amount of time. Looking at what has been happening in Italy during the last 12 months, these dire predictions seem sadly accurate. 

Once the rain stopped our friends Federica Spacca, a Cinigiano resident and Orbetello native and Giuliano Guerrini, her husband and owner of the Podernuvo winery, made the best of last weekend's sunshine and put on their wellies to support Albinia's population and hundreds of volunteers with the big clean up (see photos below). The tale they tell is heart-braking. People with  stores or flats on the ground floor have lost everything. Water and mud have infiltrated to such a degree into furniture, clothes, books, photos and computers that nothing can be saved. Personal items, household tools and treasured family furniture all need to be dumped with the knowledge that his type of natural disaster isn't being covered by house or business insurances. And whilst mutual support between people is heart-warming, the public administration is accused of having been of little help during the crucial hours when the water started to raise last week. 

With food, clothes and volunteers in easy reach in Albinia itself, the situation is more difficult in the surrounding countryside, where most farmers have lost housing and business at the same time, and where the official organisation of a support network is slow and ineffective. From what I've heard from my friends, one 18-year old living in Maremma's countryside is coordinating a lot of volunteers and needed goods via his facebook page. At last Mark Zuckerberg proves to be useful. 

Getting rid of the mud is only the first step in a process that will take months if not years as big parts of infrastructure and at least 1500 businesses have been damaged by the flood. If you'd like to lend a helping hand from further afield, the municipality of Orbetello (to which Albinia belongs) has opened a bank account for financial support.

Account holder: Comune Orbetello
Bank: Monte dei Paschi di Siena, Orbetello
IBAN: IT 51 P 01030 72320 000001329115
BIC : PASCITMMORB
Memo for the cause of transfer: Emergenza Alluvione

Young and old grabbing a shovel in the flooded areas of Southern Tuscany


Trying to get dry. Shoes in Albinia after the November 2012 flood.


Cleaning up the debris of the November 2012 flood in Italy




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