Floods that killed nine people in Italy’s northern Emilia-Romagna region caused billions of dollars worth of damage and hit agriculture particularly hard, the regional governor said on Thursday.
Torrential rains this week devastated the eastern side of the region, known as Romagna, with up to 300 landslides, 23 rivers overflowing, some 400 roads damaged or destroyed and 42 municipalities flooded.
“We are facing a new earthquake,” Emilia-Romagna President Stefano Bonaccini told reporters, recalling the seismic events that hit the region in 2012 and destroyed thousands of homes.
Noting that “almost everything” had since been rebuilt, Bonaccini said, “that experience showed us that it can be done, and we will rebuild everything (again), of that I am sure.”
According to the Coldiretti agricultural association, more than 5,000 farms were under water in the region, which includes the so-called «Valley of Fruits», as well as fields of corn and cereals.
“We had already estimated almost 1 billion euros of damage (from those floods), so imagine how much the figure will increase” with the new disaster, Bonaccini said, adding that it was too early to give precise figures.
The floods are the latest in a series of extreme weather events to hit Italy over the past year, as exceptional disasters have become a regular part of life.
The government has pledged nearly $22 million in emergency aid, on top of about $10 million allocated in response to earlier flooding two weeks ago that killed at least two people.
Emilia-Romagna-based luxury sports car maker Ferrari announced a large donation.
At least 10,000 people were forced to flee their homes and many of those who remained in the flooded areas lost power. One of the dead was washed away from his home and washed up on a beach about 20 miles away.
In the town of Cesena, the rain stopped and the waters largely receded, allowing locals to regain access to their mud-wrecked homes, including the couple Maurizio Cola and Raffaella Zanni, who escaped early Wednesday morning. .