Deadly flooding in Italy swallows streets, fields and homes
Half the region's annual rain has fallen in just two weeks. Thousands of police, military and volunteers have mobilized to rescue and evacuate residents but many municipalities are cut off by deep water and mudslides. Officials canceled the weekend's Formula 1 Grand Prix in the region.
EMILIA-ROMAGNA REGION, Italy – Two days of intense rain forced those in areas of northern Italy to scramble to safety as rivers overflowed into streets and homes. Local officials reported that at least 14 people are dead.
Italy's Civil Protection Department posted on its website that flooded regions saw 7.8 inches of rain in just 36 hours. That, on top of the floods just 2 weeks ago, totaled 19.6 inches of rain. That is half a year's rainfall for the region in just weeks. The average rainfall is about 39 inches per year.
Two died in the early May downpours, according to Reuters.
The floods come on the heels of the worst drought in 70 years, according to a statement by Italy's National Research Council. The agency reported that 2022 rainfall was down by 40%.
OLIVE OIL PRICES CLIMBING AFTER HEAT, DROUGHT IN EUROPE LEADS TO POOR HARVEST
LOOK WHAT THE DROUGHT TURNED UP: LOST CITIES, ANCIENT TREASURES AND FOREBODING SIGNS EXPOSED WORLDWIDE
"When soil remains dry for a long time, instead of increasing its absorption capacity, it ends up cementing and allowing rainfall to continue flowing over the surface and causing absolutely unimaginable damage," the Civil Protection Minister said in a news conference.
FOX News Correspondent Amy Kellogg is watching the horrific scenes from Italy. She said that this is the worst flooding in recent memory.
"To give you an idea of how ferocious this has been and the ground, rather than being spongy and able to absorb all of this water, has turned to something akin to cement and that is caused the water to just run havoc all over this region," Kellogg said.
One of the mayors in the area said that this was the worst night in the history of Romagna. Twenty-three rivers have jumped their banks.
The rain started late Monday and is only now showing signs of slowing. The government launched massive rescue efforts. Civil Protection stated that more than 5,600 rescuers, volunteers and first responders were working nonstop to evacuate locals and shore up compromised areas.
ROBOT FIRST RESPONDERS SAVING LIVES IN NATURAL DISASTERS
In social media posts, local authorities asked residents to evacuate the ground floor of their homes due to the quickly rising water. Several residents took to their roofs to escape the surge, according to a fire brigade news release.
Two military helicopter crews plucked nine people off of roofs with a winch Tuesday.
Civil Protection counted 280 landslides across 58 municipalities. About 120 of them are considered major. Near Bologna, crews evacuated 10 people from a home threatened by one of those landslides.
HOW TO WATCH FOX WEATHER ON TV
Kellogg said that 13,000 people have been forced out of their homes.
Trains were stopped, and many roads were underwater and blocked by landslides which made rescues and welfare checks impossible except by helicopter or boat.
Stranded residents can't even call for help because more than 100,000 people lost cell and landline phone service, according to Civil Protection.
"We saw some quite moving images of a church that was completely flooded in a town called Castel Bolognese," Kellogg told FOX Weather. "And then in Casana, you can see why some people are really in peril way when they can't manage to open the doors to their homes to get out because of either the rain or the mud."
The rain is tapering off, but officials report that river levels continue to rise. Much of the country is under red, yellow and orange flood advisories.
HIGH TIDE FLOODING INUNDATES VENICE BUT NEW BARRIERS PROTECT ST. MARK'S BASILICA
The Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile president, Formula 1 and local government officials canceled this weekend's Formula 1 car race in Imola within the Emilia-Romana region. The announcement read that organizers can not safely hold the event. Stakeholders agreed that the race would have taken first responders off rescue and repair in the region.
Venice is ready to raise its flood barrier to protect the low-lying city and priceless artifacts from flood-swollen tides, according to Reuters. The Associated Press reported that similar scenes are playing out across Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia.