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Flooding from Storm Gloria causes worst damage in 20 years

Fourth day of wind and rain sees rivers overflow, people trapped and missing, no power or water, and damage to infrastructure


22 January 2020 08:05 PM


ACN | Barcelona

After causing major disruptions throughout Tuesday, Storm Gloria continued to batter Catalonia on Wednesday, with a number of rivers unable to cope with the excess water and bursting their banks at various points.

One was the Tordera river, in the northern region of Girona, which overflowed and flooded some areas, forcing the authorities to evacuate a hundred people from their homes in the town of Massanes in the evening.

Earlier in the day, the overspill had broken two bridges, one of which carried a major commuter train line that the authorities say will take at least six months to repair, while the other carried a nearby main road.

The flooding from the river also trapped two people who had to be rescued by helicopter, while a water treatment plant was left out of action, and a stretch of the AP-7 motorway had to be closed for a while in the morning.

Delta rice fields flooded

The Ter and Fluvià rivers in Girona also overflowed, while in the south, a large section of the Ebre river delta flooded 3,000 hectares of local rice fields and endangered the area's exceptional flora and fauna.

Meanwhile, one person went missing in Palamós, Costa Brava, and the emergency services began a search operation with the hypothesis that the person might have fallen into the sea while trying to moor a boat. 

With the authorities warning on Wednesday morning that the "worst phase" of the storm is yet to come, the civil protection agency increased the flood alert level to "emergency," and the Barcelona metro area authority stated that the damages from the storm are the worst in at least 20 years. 

Roads closed and water supply problems

Some 20 roads were partially or totally closed early in the morning, and some towns, like Hostalric, were cut off, with the local council asking residents to stay indoors after qualifying the situation as "quite critical." 

Some parts of Hostalric, which was affected by the flooding from the Tordera river, had no power, and the whole municipality was without water or gas in the morning, with some residents evacuated. 

Coastal areas north of Barcelona were also hard hit by the storm, and residents in Badalona woke on Wednesday to find part of the city's historic Pont del Petroli pier had been washed away by waves. 

In all, the Catalan government estimates that the damages caused in the ports it manages – which is all of them except for those in Barcelona and Tarragona, which are managed by Spain – will cost up to seven million euros. 

No power for thousands

At the same time, large parts of the Vallès Oriental and Maresme counties, in the Barcelona metro area, were left with no power on Wednesday morning, as were many places in the Girona and Ebre Delta areas.  

In the early afternoon, some 30,000 customers still had no electricity across the country, with the Maresme being among the areas most affected. 

No classes at school

As for schools, 149,000 students were left without classes due to the effects of Storm Gloria, especially in the Girona region. Some school bus lines in the Pyrenees were also canceled due to the snow.  

300 mm of rainfall

The storm has left some 300 mm of rainfall in central, northern and southern parts of the country over the past four days, including 315 mm in Arbúcies (La Selva county), 303 mm in Puig Sesolles (Vallès Oriental), and 284 mm in Horta de Sant Joan (Terra Alta), as of 10am on Wednesday.

From Sunday until 11am on Wednesday, the emergency services phone number, 112, received 11,943 calls related to the storm – the authorities have reminded the public that this phone number is for emergencies only, with 012 being the number to request information.



  • Completely flooded crops on the Tordera riverbed in Malgrat, January 22, 2020 (by Eduard Batlles)

  • Completely flooded crops on the Tordera riverbed in Malgrat, January 22, 2020 (by Eduard Batlles)