Thousand evacuated as Italy battered by winter weather

Images show people stranded on their roofs awaiting rescue. PHOTO CREDIT: Vigili del Fuoco

ROME - Civil defence workers toiled Wednesday to help the 1,000 people evacuated from northeastern provinces as their homes flooded. Residents in Lentigione and Colorno in the Emilia Romagna region were lifted to safety after the banks of River Enza burst, sending waves of water into residential and commercial areas.

 Videos from the Vigili del Fuoco, Italy’s civilian protection agency, show residents standing on their roofs and being carried away to safety from the foods by rafts. A helicopter was also used as part of the rescue team.

 Other areas are under careful observation after the Serchio river in Lucca also burst its banks. The Entella, Vara and Magra rivers in Liguria are being watched, as well as the canal city Venice after reports of high water near St Mark’s Square. The weather has been affecting northern towns for days. Some connections of the Italian rail network were suspended Sunday and Monday and the cities of Ottone, Ferriere, Farini, Bettola, Ponte dell’Olio and Morfasso closed schools on Tuesday amid the bad weather conditions. Turin has also seen heavy snow and ice, forcing delays at the airport. 

Several have criticised the government over a lack of preparation for winter weather. The chief prosecutor of Genoa, Francesco Cozzi, has argued that “the railways should have prepared for this before.” Forza Italia party member, Senator Anna Maria Bernini, has said that power outages near Bologna were partly the fault of the authorities. “The government continues to ignore the problem, not dealing with the urgent demands from citizens who pay bills and taxes and who, by living in those areas, help to keep the [Apennine] mountains alive.”