Major structural works announced to fix the damage caused by the terrible flooding of September 2019 are still ‘projects’, most of which are still under review. Promises to dig out the Rambla de Abanilla, improve capacity of the riverbed of the Segura, the creation of rolling reservoirs, hydraulic corridors and more are projects much lauded over the last two years since the Vega Baja was devastated by the September 2019 DANA.
Two years have passed since biblical levels of rain fell on the southern Costa Blanca – 2800 cubic hectometres of rain fell on the Segura basin; triple what the reservoir is capable of holding. That, coupled with the breaking of the banks of the river in Almoradí and overall bad planning caused the greatest catastrophe the Vega Baja has seen for 140 years. As the two year anniversary was marked this weekend, many took the opportunity to highlight the lack of action to repair damage done. The economic cost of the tragedy is estimated to be in the region of 3000 million euro. Thousands of families were left without shelter as their homes were destroyed and two years on, little or no structural work necessary for the prevention of another DANA of 2019 proportions has begun.
Obtaining finance for works of such magnitude is not easy but many claim that to date most of the structural works necessary don’t even have a study done. As the Covid pandemic broke out here just six months after the DANA, there was of course an additional delay to the arrival of funds and it is hoped that most of the major works will be financed with EU funds. The Valencian Government already poured €90m into aid after the DANA, including direct aid for basic goods and necessities, repairs to schools and health centres, fixing both main and agricultural roadways and funding to town halls to compensate for extraordinary expenses.
The CHS water management authority has also spent over €20m since the DANA, mainly on emergency repairs and the reconstruction and reinforcement of the river bank that gave way in Almoradí. It also plans to spend another €5m over the next three years.
However, despite funds spent on aid and repairs, the region continues to demand long term solutions.
The Mayor of Orihuela, Emilio Bascuñana said at the weekend, “Two years have passed and we still have no solutions, everything remains the same.”
He said that the Vega Baja is fearful of heavy rains, saying, “Orihuela urgently needs that works be undertaken, immediately, that the competent administrations take action. Once and for all, hydraulic infrastructure work must be carried out to prevent the tragedy from repeating itself. Unfortunately, the aid promised by the Consell and the central government has yet to arrive. We remain without recovering homes, crops, shops, the industrial estate, the Occupational Centre and more – without aid it is impossible for Orihuela to overcome the disaster.”
The Mayor didn’t mince his words: “This is not the time for ‘walks’ through the municipalities presenting projects. Better marketing campaigns are for another time. You have to move on to act.”
“Do you know of any municipality in this country that has been able to overcome without help such a misfortune and so many losses? I guarantee you that I don’t. Not in Spain, not anywhere”