Sant Llorenç

The effects of the flood


The emergencies directorate was aware that people had died and were missing from the very earliest moments that Sant Llorenç was hit by the massive flood of water from the torrent on 9 October.

A report from Joan Pol, the technical director of the government's Inunbal flood risk plan, was presented to members of the Balearic parliament in advance of the public administration minister, Catalina Cladera, making her statements at a parliamentary committee about the disaster. The report states that rainfall reached 237 litres per square metre and that the first responses were between 19.32 and 21.00. Nineteen fire engines and 42 crew from the Majorca Fire Brigade were sent. The Guardia Civil mobilised one hundred officers. The Council of Majorca's roads department dispatched eight people and six vehicles. The ambulance service provided ten vehicles and 21 medics. Civil Protection had seventeen volunteers.

The system for flood emergency, known as Inunbal 2, was put into effect at 21.07. The army's UME emergency unit in Valencia was officially advised at 22.33. On that night and over the following days, a total of 807 members of various emergency services were deployed.

The national ministry of the interior activated its own flood emergency plan at 22.00. The ministry of defence gave the instruction for the UME unit to go to Majorca at 00.15.

The government's internal communications network for emergencies, Tetraib, experienced problems in the Sant Llorenç area. There was a cut to electricity at the antenna in Arta, which required back-up batteries to be installed. There was a general failure with antennae which meant that there wasn't correct communications coverage. Sant Llorenç itself was in effect cut off from the communications system.

Orange and Vodafone coverage was subject to intermittent failures from 15.00 until 22.00. These were at their peak around 19.00 because of the sheet of rain affecting the companies' transmitter in Arta.

In parliament yesterday, President Armengol stated that flood risk exists and the debate about it is much broader than the maintenance of torrents. There are issues, she noted, of development in flood areas; flood risk awareness; self-protection measures; and the loss of forest areas and farming land.

Armengol was asked by the leader of El Pi, Jaume Font, if torrents have been given adequate maintenance. The president explained that the current government has doubled the amount spent on clearing torrents to 2.4 million euros.

Cladera told the committee that there was "extraordinary" rainfall on 9 October. The first communication regarding a problem with flooding came at 18.31. By the time Aemet raised its alert to amber at 19.12, the 112 emergency service was aware of "seven incidents". (The red alert wasn't until one minute after ten.)

Aemet, she explained, had admitted that its warning had initially been at the lowest level - yellow. This had influenced later action. Improvements to forecasting was one measure she said will be adopted. The agency needs to have weather stations in areas that are most at risk of flooding. Information systems need to be improved in order to overcome difficulties in certain areas. All municipalities will need to have emergency plans; only a few have these at present. A new law for emergencies is also required.

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