Aftermath of flooding in Sant Llorenç, Mallorca in October 2018

The tragic flooding in Sant Llorenç happened on October 9, 2018.

06-10-2021Enrique Calvo

The revised Inunbal special plan for flooding risk has been presented. This is very necessary, as there have been no modifications for fifteen years and the plan has lacked provision for the consequences of climate change.

The minister responsible for the plan is Mercedes Garrido. Her portfolio of public function covers emergencies. And where flooding is concerned, it is accepted that there is increased risk.

In presenting the plan, Garrido has highlighted the fact that pre-emergency for flooding will now be activated from August 15. What this means is a state of preparedness from when the weather does typically begin to show signs of becoming unsettled. Storms in late August can be fierce and damaging, as was the case in parts of the Tramuntana in August 2020.

Town halls are to be helped in identifying areas vulnerable to flooding by torrents that burst their banks and in adopting measures to prevent damage to property and the environment and risks to the public.

Operational procedures are to be adapted to take account of risks posed by the Mediterranean climate and climate change. There are measures for areas at risk of flooding, e.g. urban planning that avoids development in these areas.

Three years after the Sant Llorenç disaster, Garrido stresses that the government has reviewed "everything that it had promised to review in terms of the general directorate of emergencies and interior".

In this regard, staffing at the emergencies centre has increased - to 59 operators, 13 supervisors and five managers. The emergency management software, which was more than 25 years old, has been changed; data management and communications have been updated; and there is a technical guide for drawing up municipality emergency plans.

A network of hydrometric stations has been developed with the assistance of the University of the Balearic Islands. These offer an early-warning system for flood risk; the stations are located in the beds of torrents.

The minister observes: "We cannot control the weather, but we can do work to improve services, minimise risks and reduce losses."

The Spanish government has to sign off on the plan, which will then go to the Balearic government for final approval.

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