By Lois Jones
FLOODED homes, businesses and streets under water, balconies coming away from walls, trees uprooted with split trunks, broken windows and short circuits: this is just a part of the damage caused by the storm that lashed Majorca yesterday. The storm, which crossed the island in a west-easterly direction during the course of approximately one hour, principally affected Palma, El Toro, Son Ferrer and Santa Ponsa: coastal towns in the municipality of Calviá where there were some injuries reported. People had been cut by broken glass from windows that had been smashed by strong winds that reached speeds of around 100 kilometres per hour. Drainage networks couldn't cope with the rainfall of 23 litres per square meter which fell in the space of ten minutes in some areas of the Balearic capital. The resulting accumulation of water, up to half a metre deep in places, became a hazard to traffic and some streets had to be closed off. Awnings and tables along terraces where residents and tourists alike were taking breakfast, took off, in some cases literally, in the path of the storm. The area of Miguel de los Santos Oliver, near to Paseo Mallorca in Palma, was transformed into a river when the roadway filled with water after drainage could no longer cope. Branches, and occasionally whole trees fell onto the pavements. In calle Bonaire, a balcony was dislodged and a wall came down in the Paseo Mallorca, whilst in calle Jaume III, a lampost broke in half after being hit by an awning ripped away by the wind. Council workmen in the area took down other awnings that threatened to “take off” with the wind. In the offices of a bank in plaza de los Patines in Palma, witnesses described “hurricane force” winds smashing the windows to the building.
Underground walkways, garages, lower ground floors and commercial premises were the most common victims of the violent downpour in Palma, which was subjected to a bombardment of 23 litres of rainfall per square metre in the space of 10 minutes. According to the Association of small and medium-sized businesses in Majorca (Pimeco), several shops in the Palma areas of Reyes Católicos, Adriá Ferrá, 31 de Diciembre, Ricardo Ortega, Joan Alcover and avenida Argentina were overwhelmed by the water; as were various supermarkets in the area of Es Fortí which had to shut their doors. In a communiqué, Pimeco criticized the “disastrous” state of the soakaways and pavements in the Balearic capital and complained that local authorities still haven't tackled this problem which occurs each time there is heavy rainfall. Sources at Palma City Council signalled that once the stormy weather was over, an immediate action plan would be launched under the auspices of EMAYA, a water and rubbish collection company working for the municipality. The company had received dozens of alarm calls. According to EMAYA, the majority of water courses had “served their purpose correctly”, as they had recently been freed of debris in anticipation of strong rainfall. The island's firemen received the most calls for assistance from the municipality of Calviá, where there were numerous reports of flooding, fallen trees, tiles and other debris strewn over the pavements. In the area of Son Ferrer, tiles were whipped from the roofs of buildings, and a wall with iron grating was blown down at the entrance to an old people's home. The most badly affected area of Calviá was Santa Ponsa, where a balcony and a tiled roof collapsed and 14 calls warning of fallen trees were recorded, many of them torn up by the roots. The mediaeval market in Santa Ponsa sustained serious damage as did some “Moors and Christians” encampments which had been set up to celebrate the King James Festivals which commemorate the Christian conquest of Majorca. In Marratxí, firemen and local police sources confirmed they had to mount seven water pumping exercises after the bridges of Can Carbonell, Inca Nou and Inca Parc became flooded, along with a number of individual houses. The Balearic government yesterday issued a warning that the unsettled weather will continue for a few days and that with the Balearics still on storm alert today, for the public to be extremely careful.


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