Global Disaster Recap: Flooding in France and Italy

On+October+5th+2020%2C+dangerous+flash+floods+hit+the+coast+of+France+and+Italy.+The+storm+known+as+%22Storm+Alex%22+caused+seven+deaths+and+dozens+homeless.+

Rachel Lansperry

On October 5th 2020, dangerous flash floods hit the coast of France and Italy. The storm known as “Storm Alex” caused seven deaths and dozens homeless.

Sejal Mohan, Reporter

In south-eastern France and north-western Italy, a storm from the Atlantic hit and caused floods and landslides. The storm does not have an official name, since its winds are not strong enough to categorize as a named storm. Nonetheless, the destruction was devastating. The storm hit on Saturday, and Italy and France have been under flooding warnings until Monday morning.

There has been no disaster like this in France in decades, with winds of 180 mph and 17.7 inches of rainfall in one day. The last big storm in France was in 2015, and even though it left 20 dead, the conditions of that storm were far less extreme than the one this past weekend. To put the flooding in perspective, the average rainfall for the year in France is only 7 inches more than the rains on October 9th. There are some possibilities of more rain and flooding, causing worry for France. Rivers have broken through their banks, and over 100 houses have been destroyed. The Saint-Martin-Vésubie and Rimplas villages in steep valleys were even cut off from the rest of France due to the floods. The Roya, Esteron, and Vésubie Valleys suffered the most damage. The storm resulted in over 20 people missing, and presumably dead, with a few confirmed deaths. On the French Atlantic Coast, the storm did not cause as much damage, but it did cause thousands of people to lose power. Jean Catex, the French Prime Minister, is helping his people by providing emergency funds and deploying the army in areas where it is needed.

IB Senior Julius Walls is on board with France’s response, believing “despite the handful of deaths, officials are taking the right precautions to ensure that the safety of the civilians is the number one priority. I believe aid should be placed in all areas…The areas that were directly affected should be the first to receive aid, but that shouldn’t prevent others from receiving the same in the event of a similar situation.” 

The storm left an absolute disaster in Italy, as well, destroying homes and leaving 16 people missing and 2 dead. Another 20 people were reported missing, but they were all located near the French-Italian border and were announced to be safe. However, the storm impacted Italy more than France, with 25 inches of rain in a day; the water level in River Po rose 3 meters. This caused a wreckage on the  bridge over the Sesia River and cut off villages, similarly to what happened in France. Most of the damage in Italy was in the west, with the Roja river and the regions around Lombardy flooded. Venice was one of the only cities safe, due to the flood barrier system providing protection from the storm’s floods on the Saturday of the October 8-10 weekend. The regional chief of Piedmont, Alberto Cirio, declared Italy to be in a state of national emergency and sent aid workers to the isolated villages in hopes to rescue those in distress. The storm may have passed, but there are still more forecasts of heavy rains and spontaneous floods in both France and Italy.

Rithika Aluvala, another IB senior says “I did not know about this situation and I really do think other countries should be aware of foreign events because we could potentially help and make things easier for them by raising money and sending supplies.” Though this tragedy has had such a negative impact on many lives, not many people know the extent of its damage because it is in a foreign country.

Even though this situation happened in France, it is still important to keep them in our hearts and for our leaders to lend a hand in their recovery.