A state of calamity will be declared for Emilia Romagna at next Tuesday’s cabinet meeting. The flooding emergency has left nine people dead in the northern region, Environment and Energy Security Minister Gilberto Pichetto said today.
The government will also formalise initial emergency measures announced on Wednesday. These include a freeze on mortgages and tax collection, the minister told Radio anch’io on Rai Radio 1.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Emilia Romagna was hit by a new wave of torrential rainfall. Up to 500 mm – half the average annual precipitation – fell in 36 hours in some places. All the rivers in the region burst their banks.
Thousands of people had to be evacuated as floodwaters rose in many built-up areas. An estimated 4,000 people were left homeless.
Today, some 50,000 people were reported to be without electricity.
Billions needed to address damage
Emilia Romagna Governor Stefano Bonaccini said several billion euros would be needed to address the damage caused by extreme weather.
“The extent of the devastation caused by the bad weather is comparable to another earthquake: the damage will be quantitatively smaller, but it will be a few billion euros,” Bonnaccini told Rai 3.
“We will rebuild everything as for the earthquake,” continued Bonaccini. The governor was referring to the 2012 earthquakes that claimed 27 lives and caused massive devastation in the region.
“We have told the government that we need a lot of resources, but also expeditious regulations,” said the governor. This is why they will declare a State of Calamity later today. “There is a need for a special commissioner, provisions for workers, to extend deadlines, mortgage instalments, a lot of investment. Unfortunately, we have a lot of experience in this area,” he continued. He further added that the institutions need to be “obsessed” with supporting people.
Government to request EU Solidarity Fund
The government will ask the European Commission to activate the EU solidarity fund in support of flood-stricken Emilia Romagna.
Speaking from Bologna, the Environment and Energy Security Minister Gilberto Pichetto expressed the “most absolute commitment to stand by” the affected areas”. The government will also find the most compatible solutions for an event that has something “tragic and exceptional about it”.
It is not a matter of how much is allocated, but what needs to be done, said Pichetto. “Attention must be given to procedures and decision-making times,” he continued, adding that the situation represents “a national issue” and that “teamwork is needed.”
Agriculture badly hit
Farmers’ association Coldiretti said today, the agricultural sector had also been devastated. Over 5,000 farms with greenhouses, nurseries and stables and tens of thousands of hectares of vineyards, fruit orchards and arable land were under water. In addition, agricultural product processing facilities were also hit.