SUNDAY'S official end to the summer holidays was marked yesterday by near-empty beaches and terraces and the Balearics being put on storm alert.
Yesterday, the Balearic government swept into action on its first day back at work, embarking on the regional clean up of river beds and water ways before the torrential rains strike.
The operation should be completed within three weeks, although, according to the met. office and the Civil Protection department, the first of the heavy rains are imminent. The government, in conjunction with the local councils, has drawn up a list of black spots, river beds and water ways which need immediate attention in order to prevent flooding and land slides. This year there has been public outcry about the poor conditions of river beds in the Balearics, many of which are cluttered with rubbish.
The government has already responded to public demand and carried out a quick clean up of the worst effected areas within weeks of being elected back in May, but after this dry summer, many river beds need urgent and serious attention ahead of the torrential rains. The Balearics was on storm and flood alert yesterday, Minorca was hit by a fierce storm in the early hours which left 15.000 households with no power, today the rains are forecast to ease away but we will be back on storm alert again tomorrow with a return of the gale force winds and torrential rain, as heavy as 30 litres per square metre per hour, forecast. There was a backlash over the blackout in Minorca yesterday afternoon. At 2.20pm, some 3.000 people were still without power and the mayor of Es Castell, Irene Coll, wrote to electricity company GESA-ENDESA in protest over the delays in restoring power to all those effected, especially shops, bars and restaurants, many of which were forced to close. The power went down at 4.20am when Minorca was hit by hundreds of bolts of lightning which damaged nine electricity supply lines linking San Lluís, Costa Nova, Ferreries, Xa Xirolina (Es Mercadal), Es Castell, the airport, Alcaidús and Novus (Ciutadella). Across the Balearics, GESA is keeping a round-the-clock watch on power supplies and, in the event of heavy storms sweeping across the region over the next 48-hours, the public is urged to be extremely careful, especially if driving.