Livorno still reeling after tragic weekend flooding

Volunteers help to clear mud and debris from a building in Ardenza Volunteers help to clear mud and debris from a building in Ardenza 13th September 2017

Last Saturday night the city of Livorno was hit by torrential rain: 400mm of rain fell in just over 4 hours during the worst storm the city has ever seen. That's the equivalent of the last 8 months' worth of rain in one single night.

When the city woke up on Sunday morning the scenes of devastation were unimaginable: whole areas deep in water, homes flooded, roads closed, bridges and walls collapsed, dozens of cars swept away by the flood waters, but far worse than all this was the terribe loss of life. Nine people died in the floods, in tragic circumstances, including three members of the same family whose basement apartment was engulfed by the flood waters on Viale Nazario Sauro, close to the football stadium.

A state of emergency was proclaimed by Livorno's mayor, Filippo Nogarin. Damage within the municipality of Livorno has been estimated at around 3.8 million euros.

While the city centre was relatively untouched by the storm damage, peripheral areas crossed by heavily swollen streams that descend from the surrounding hills have been the worst hit, namely the districts of Montenero, Salviano, Collinaia and Ardenza, as well as Stagno and Quercianella.

Since Sunday the people of Livorno of all ages have been working together to remove water and mud from people's homes and garages. In addition to the official rescue operations, hundreds of locals - including many students (schools are still closed for the summer break), and teams of Livorno's immigrant population -  have been taking part in the efforts to get the city back on its feet, shovelling away the layers of mud and debris that have covered roads, fields and buildings.

All over the city, along the streets, are piles of people's flood-ruined furniture and belongings waiting to be disposed of, and scenes of wrecked, mud-filled cars that have been swept far away from their parking places.

About forty people are said to be homeless as a result of the floods and are being temporarily housed in local hotels. Groups are being organised to provide meals and essentials to those who have lost everything and are trying to piece their homes back together.

The humour festival 'Il Senso del Ridicolo', due to start in Livorno on 22nd September, has been cancelled by the organisers Fondazione Livorno and 'Fondazione Livorno - cultura e arte' as a sign of respect. Funds that were destined for the festival will instead be donated to those people worst hit by the flooding.

Donations can be made to a dedicated bank account set up by the Livorno council

Photo: Furio Pozzi