First of all thank you all those sending messages phoning or trying to phone and asking after us. We were 48 hours off line and we have received a deluge of messages. We are fine and the land has suffered no significant damage is the good news first!
For those of you who haven't heard, although it has made the international news in Europe, our area has officially been declared a disaster zone. Six people died and at least another six are still missing as we suffered what I have heard described as an inland tsunami. We just escaped the worst of it by being just off the eye of the storm. The first we knew of the disaster was when concerned relatives phoned me on my mobile phone.
Yes it had rained most of Tuesday and during the night to Wednesday at times pretty hard. The really bad bit didn't seem to last for more than 2 or 3 hours though, so we weren't all that worried. It wasn't like last year, when it rained for weeks on end and then a 24 hour downpour on top of that. This year we'd had hardly any rain, so we were in fact quite happy to get some.
However what nature threw at this region this time was something quite unprecedented. Within these 2-3 hours almost half a metre of rain fell! Half metre deep that is, not wide! This caused a huge tidal wave down two river valleys, the Vara and the Magra, taking everything with it in its wake as well as causing massive destruction in the world famed Cinque Terre region, cutting the it off from the outside world. To give you an idea of the geography and how close we came to disaster ourselves I made this little map, which shows the main eye of the storm as far as I understand it.
Today I took the bike across the valley to see if everything was ok on the land, which as I say it was. Here are some of the scenes I saw on the way over:
Locals were quick to blame authorities for not doing enough to clean up the river. Debris, like the tree trunks, quickly get stuck on obstacles like bridges, diverting the water from it's usual course and into built-up areas.
Our thoughts go out to those of our near neighbours who have lost property or worse loved ones. I understand that most of the victims were elderly people who drowned in their own houses as flood waters rose with 10 minutes, leaving the frail no time to escape.