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Dozens displaced by major floods in southern counties return to their homes

Travel can resume after heavy rains but authorities continue to urge caution

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02 September 2021 11:56 AM

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ACN|Alcanar

The southernmost towns in Catalonia woke up on Thursday to the destruction caused by heavy rains and flash floods a day earlier, which forced the evacuation of 83 people, inundated roads and train rails, and left thousands without electricity.

"It’s a bit catastrophic—we didn’t expect that much rain," says Laia Grau, a resident of Alcanar, a town by the Ebre river delta bordering the Valencia region. "Older and lower houses, like ours, have been flooded. We were really scared."

Civil protection authorities say mobility can resume, as all roads and train lines are back in operation, but urge caution and ask residents to avoid all nonessential travel since emergency staff continues to work in the area.

  • "These are extraordinary situations, and we need extraordinary support"

    Josep Caparrós · Mayor of Sant Carles de la Ràpita

The mayors of Alcanar and Sant Carles de la Ràpita have demanded urgent financial aid from public institutions. They estimate that the damages are greater than those caused by major floodings in 2018, when 8 million euros were allocated towards rebuilding the area. This time, they say, at least twice as much money is needed.

"These are extraordinary situations, and we need extraordinary support, because our local budget is not enough," said the mayor of Sant Carles de la Ràpita, Josep Caparrós, in a radio interview on Thursday.

Catalan president Pere Aragonès, who traveled to the region on Thursday to monitor the work of emergency services, said that the government is studying whether to declare a catastrophe zone, which would improve the financial aid the affected towns will receive. 

At least nine people required medical attention, but no severe injuries were reported.

A power outage that left more than 10,000 people without electricity has been fixed.

Storm Gloria badly damaged Ebre river delta in January 2020

The area affected includes the Ebre river delta, a fragile ecosystem severely affected by Storm Gloria in January 2020.

Part of the delta flooded due to the storm, destroying rice fields, while rivers across the country burst their banks.

A year later, Storm Filomena battered the area once again. Beaches, such as Riumar and La Marquesa, were severely eroded as sand was blown away.

Have a listen to our podcast published in January on climate change in Catalonia, which including a report from the Ebre river delta

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  • Alcanar, in southern Catalonia, was hit by flash floods on September 1, 2021 (by Jordi Marsal)

  • A car swept away by the flash floods in Cases d'Alcanar, in southern Catalonia, on Wednesday (by Ariadna Escoda - ACN)

  • Alcanar, in southern Catalonia, was hit by flash floods on September 1, 2021 (by Jordi Marsal)
  • A car swept away by the flash floods in Cases d'Alcanar, in southern Catalonia, on Wednesday (by Ariadna Escoda - ACN)

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