‘I lost everything’: Italians count the cost of the deadly flood in the Marche | Italy

H.With her face and clothes smeared with mud, Isabella Puttilli, 74, fought her pain as she searched the ruins of her home, among the dozen destroyed by the catastrophic floods that hit Italy’s central Marche on Thursday night.

“I lost everything,” he said. “Food, furniture, I need to throw it all away.” But her emotions gave way when she walked into her bedroom, where a picture of her and her husband, who died seven years ago on their wedding day, hangs. “She loved music and had over 200 records,” she said. “They have all been destroyed, very precious items that I will never have back.”

Puttilli is from Pianello di Ostra, a town of less than 800 inhabitants, where five of the 11 people so far ascertained to the flood have lost their lives.

Among them were Giuseppe Tisba, 65, and his son Andrea, 25. The two were trying to move their car from an underground garage when the banks of the Misa River, which flows a few hundred meters behind their apartment building, exploded, sending a deluge of water into the garage and trapping them inside. Their neighbor, Diego Chiappetti, 51, was similarly killed.

Isabella Putilli in the flooded living room of her home in Ostra. Photography: Roberto Salomone / The Guardian

The other victims of the city were Ennaji Mohamed, 41, and Ferdinando Olivi, 80, whose grandson launched a desperate request for help on Facebook as the pouring rain almost wiped Pianello di Ostra off the maps in a couple of hours. .

“Ferdinando had a driving school and he was my instructor,” said Pietro, who was standing outside the house as the diggers cleared mountains of debris and destroyed furniture. “The whole city is in mourning, everyone here knows everyone.”

It was the worst storm to hit the Marche since 2014, with 420 mm of rain in nine hours, one third of the region’s annual average. The regional capital Ancona and the surrounding areas were also seriously affected, as was Senigallia, a town on the Adriatic coast.

The storms, widely described as “tsunamis” and “apocalypse”, turned roads into rivers, overturned cars and felled trees. The two people still missing are Mattia Luconi, eight, dragged away from his mother’s arms as they tried to get out of the car, and a 56-year-old woman.

But while the Marches mourn the victims and deal with the consequences of the storms, anger grows, most of it aimed at politicians as Italy heads towards the general elections on 25 September.

“With all this disaster, no one is going to vote,” said Anna Rita Camerucci as she cleaned up important documents in her destroyed home from the mud. “I certainly won’t. People are very angry, there was no warning [of the intense storms] and no preparation “.

Italy is very vulnerable to climate change, with extreme weather events occurring more frequently. In August last year, temperatures in the country reached 48.8 ° C, breaking the European record. A severe drought amid an intense and prolonged heatwave this summer followed a mild winter with below-average rainfall and snowfall. In early July, 11 people were killed when a huge mass of ice from a glacier on the north side of the Marmolada in the Dolomites broke off, causing an avalanche. This summer, the seas surrounding Italy were five degrees warmer than average.

Andrea at work in the flooded garage of his home in Ostra.
Andrea at work in the flooded garage of his home in Ostra. Photography: Roberto Salomone / The Guardian

“It is possible that the very warm sea has fueled this storm,” said Luca Mercalli, president of the Italian Meteorological Society.

However, until Friday, when Enrico Letta, leader of the center-left Democratic Party, asked why the fight against the climate crisis was not the first priority, the topic was absent from the debate.

“They talk about it now because they just needed to share a couple of words in the middle of an emergency,” added Mercalli. “But they don’t think it’s a major problem. In fact, they see it as an obstacle to the economy. “

Mercalli was among the scientists who launched a petition in August, signed by more than 120,000 people, to urge political leaders to make the climate crisis a priority in their election programs.

He said the only political force truly committed to the issue was, of course, the tiny Green Party, which is part of a coalition with the PD. The PD, in turn, also has the environment at the top of its government agenda, while a coalition made up of far-right Brothers of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi’s Lega and Forza Italia, which is expected to win a landslide victory in the elections, gives the theme a symbolic mention towards the end of its goals.

Elly Schlein, vice president of the Emilia Romagna Region who is running as an independent candidate on the democratic and progressive list of the Democratic Party, argued that her group was “strongly aware” of the need to act now.

“What happened in the Marche is terrible,” he said. “Once again there are victims of the climate emergency and extreme weather events that are increasingly frequent and that have a strong impact on the population”.

Damage caused by food in Senigallia.
Damage caused by food in Senigallia. Photography: Roberto Salomone / The Guardian

Citing a report from Legambiente, Italy’s most important environmental group, he said that in the last decade Italy has spent six times more to repair damage after extreme weather emergencies than it has spent to prevent and mitigate damage. , for example through the maintenance of rivers.

“We need to invest in prevention, in terms of limiting the impact of these extreme weather events,” he said.

His words, however, have little impact on Puttilli, who will now go to live with her daughter in a nearby town.

“Italy has had several disasters similar to this and nothing is ever done,” he said. “Now stop. I no longer believe in politicians and I will not vote ”.

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