Sabato, 20 Aprile 2019
Dimensione testo

Sardinian woman watched 'huge wave' from cyclone sweep home


Cagliari, November 19 - A Sardinian woman said
Tuesday that she watched as a "huge wave" of water swept through
her home while she scrambled to safety from a cyclone that
claimed 16 lives on the Italian island.
As the Italian government declared a state of emergency in
Sardinia people struggled to pull their lives back together amid
the ruins caused when, an official said, the equivalent of six
months' worth of rain fell in 24 hours.
"We had no electricity or phones and we did not know what
was going on," said the woman who described a night of terror at
her home in the hard-hit town of Olbia.
"Suddenly, we saw a huge wave of water reach our home, like
an ocean wave, dragging everything away," and pushing her car
into the street, she said of the powerful Cyclone Cleopatra that
swept the island.
"Luckily we were able to reach safety by climbing the top
floor of the building," she said.
Hundreds of people were displaced by the flood of water and
subsequent waves of mud, with many forced to sleep in hotels or
with family and friends, and some even in school gymnasiums.
Many questioned why authorities gave them no warning of
such a major weather event.
"Is this Civil Protection or uncivilized?" quipped one
victim, surveying the damage to his home as he questioned why
government departments, including the Civil Protection Agency,
did not issue warnings before the cyclone hit.
"I have lived in Olbia for 40 years and I had never seen
such a thing".
Franco Gabrielli, head of the national civil protection
body, travelled to Olbia to monitor what Premier Enrico Letta
called "a national tragedy".
Gabrielli defended the warning system saying it worked but
that nothing could predict such "an exceptional event".
At least 50 members of Cagliari's provincial civil
protection agency were helping with the clean-up and technicians
were monitoring bridge safety in their area.
Gabrielli said 13 of the victims were from the province of
Olbia, two were from the province of Nuoro and one was from near
He added that two people in the province of Nuoro were
still missing in the flooding after intense rainfall.
"Within 24 hours the quantity of rain that fell was equal
to the precipitation of six months, with a peak of 450 mm in the
area of Orgosolo (Nuoro) in 12 hours," said Gabrielli.
The Italian government pledged 20 million euros to tackle
the immediate emergency but Letta stressed that this did not
include funds that would be set aside for reconstruction.
"We express our empathy and solidarity to the families and
to the people hit," Letta said.
"At the moment the priority is saving lives and helping the
people evacuated from their homes.
"Unfortunately there are lots of people in this situation
and the death toll is dramatic".
Torrential rain flooded streets, sweeping cars away, caused
rivers to burst their banks and bridges to collapse.
The victims included a Brazilian family of four that
drowned when their basement apartment in Arzachena, near Olbia,
was submerged in a flash flood.
Another victim was a police officer whose car plunged from
a collapsing bridge as he tried to take an injured person to
receive medical assistance.
Rescue operations were hampered by the fact that many roads
were destroyed due to the heavy rain, which let up early on
Tuesday but was expected to pour down again later in the day.
Schools in the affected areas were closed.
President Giorgio Napolitano expressed "solidarity with the
communities" affected and said in a statement that he was
"pained" by the disaster.

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