Government and local councils out to repair the huge damage caused by weekend storms
MILLIONS of euros are set to be invested in urgent works throughout the Costa Blanca to repair the huge damage caused by the storms at the weekend.
Non-stop downpours, electrical storms and large waves battered the north of Alicante province, destroying sea-front properties, engulfing beaches, wrecking promenades and leaving thousands of residents without electricity supplies or drinkable tap water.
The storms also claimed the life of a young man who was dragged down the Serpis river in Alcoy on Sunday.
Efforts are now focused on repairing the damage so that residents can get back to their normal lives and ensure all is back to normal in time for Easter - the second busiest period of the year for the tourism trade.
Central government will today (Friday) approve a Royal Decree declaring several Costa areas disaster zones and has promised urgent repair works will be funded from Madrid.
Meanwhile, residents in Altea, La Nucía, Alfaz del Pi and La Cala Finestrat have suffered tap water restrictions since Monday. Water cannot be drunk, used for cooking or even personal hygiene due to the amount of solid particles it contains.
On Wednesday, both La Nucía and Finestrat announced new projects to build and link up to drinking water treatment plants to ensure drinkable water supplies even after adverse weather.
CBN Newsdesk team
THE CABINET in Madrid will today (Friday) declare the municipalities that were worst hit by the weekend downpours and those affected by the 'Gota Fría' storms in November disaster zones.
Public works minister Iñigo de la Serna visited the Valencia region on Monday to see some of the damage in Dénia and other areas.
He then met with regional president Ximo Puig, who specifically requested that emergency funds should go to those affected and tourism resorts where repairs must be made before Easter.
Regional and national government announced they are contacting power suppliers and insurance companies to ensure residents get swift and suitable compensation for the damage caused by power cuts, flooding and other damage caused by the storms.
The coastal department of the Ministry for the Environment will be focusing its aid on the severely damaged beaches and promenades in Calpe, Benitachell, Jávea and Dénia.
But damage was not only caused along the coast as winds of up to 70kmph and heavy rain caused trees and billboards to fall and even some roofs to fly away.
Road and building repairs
Urgent repair works will be required on several roads damaged by the storms.
Waves left a huge hole in the AlbirAltea sea-front road, that has been cut off to traffic between 'El Chiringuito' roundabout and Altea harbour.
The CV-70 road between Guadalest and Benifato has also been cut off to traffic as a landslide caused a large section of the road to collapse, although traffic is allowed between La Nucía and Guadalest as usual.
In Teulada, the local council is demanding immediate repair works at the secondary school. The snow, followed by torrential rain, caused damage to communal areas and stairways. Repairs have been requested urgently due to health and safety issues for pupils.
The damage report to the education office from the town hall included photographs of the affected areas, and explained that instant action was necessary to prevent injury.
Previously, in 2016, Teulada town hall had submitted plans regarding improvements to the school building. These plans had been accepted, and work was supposed to commence during last year’s summer holiday, but as yet they have still not been started.
The town hall confirmed that they will insist that all work now be started immediately.
To ensure the safety of the students, the town hall architect checked the damage and evaluated the situation, cordoning off unsafe areas.
Water supply problems to be solved
Four Marina Baixa town halls were forced to ban residents from using tap water for personal use for several days.
The caution was issued after the storms filled the Guadalest reservoir to the brim, forcing town hall workers to open the floodgates, releasing four cubic metres per second and dragging all the debris along with it, which in turn made the water flow surpass the legal limits of turbidity.
Residents in La Cala Finestrat, Altea, La Nucía and Alfaz del Pi´ were therefore advised not to use tap water for daily activities such as washing up, cooking or showering, a warning that was already issued and followed back in December.
Up to 60,000 people were affected by the measure and forced to endure several days without clean water in their homes.
Although at the time of going to press the restrictions had not been lifted, councils have started to take measures to avoid future problems.
On Wednesday, La Nucía announced the construction of a drinking water treatment plant that 'will end cloudy water problems in La Nucía', say town hall sources.
The ETAP (Estación de Tratamiento de Agua Potable) plant will be built next to the municipal warehouse in L'Alberca industrial estate.
The €1.3million cost will be covered entirely by water supply company Aqualia, says La Nucía council, who insist the cost will not be passed on to the town hall or residents.
The plant will be capable of processing tap water for a population of 40,000 people - double the current amount of residents in La Nucía.
Finestrat will soon have its own drinking water treatment in the southern part of the municipality thanks to the construction of a pipeline to connect the pumping station near Finestrat with the Terra Mítica drinking water treatment station (ETAP) in Benidorm.
Finestrat mayor Juan Francisco Pérez said: “With the imminent work, we will improve the water quality of the southern area of our town, including the industrial estates, commercial zones and urbanisations.
"Unlike the rest of the town, which is supplied from the Font del Molí, this area is currently supplied by the reservoirs at Guadalest and Amadorio. Therefore, when we connect to the Terra Mítica pump in Benidorm we hope we will not suffer any problems in cloudiness levels, as we saw in the recent storm.
"This connection will also guarantee us a new supply point, which will help in times of greater demand, such as summer, in case of any incidence in the network, and also when we suffer drought," concluded the mayor.
The connection of the pipes has been approved, and will take approximately three months. The cost will be €264,417.80 and will be 100% financed by the Alicante government.
Finally, Alfaz del Pi will also be taking tap water treatment measures after the council announced on Wednesday that a filtration plant will be built next to the water deposits in the Tossal Roig area.
Plans will be ready within one month and the contracting process will be speeded up to allow construction to begin as soon as possible.
It will cost €450,000 and will filter 80 cubic metres of water per second.
Altea sets up help point
Altea town hall announced it has installed a help point for people affected by the adverse weather.
Councillor Bea González said the help desk can be used to report complaints, including those concerning loss of electricity supply and damage to property. All of the information will be collated and sent to the relevant companies.
The town hall will then liaise with both residents and the companies in order to settle compensation claims.
The help desk will be located on the ground floor of the town hall for the next two weeks.
CBN Newsdesk team
LAST week's surprising images of snow along the Costa Blanca gave way to scenes of chaos and destruction over the weekend.
During snow, rain and wind the provincial emergency services received more than 300 callouts.
Seventy workers spread more than 700 tonnes of salt on the province's roads, using 22,000 litres of brine. Another 100 workers cleared obstructions.
Althogether, 600 Guardia Civil officers remained on duty throughout the adverse weather, using 300 vehicles, while just five snow ploughs tried in vain to clear roads.
At one point during the storms, 26 roads were cut off.
Most telephone calls to the emergency services were concerning vehicles stuck in the snow, although there were many regarding flooding of roads and homes, fallen trees or missing people.
It was estimated that over 7,000 people were directly affected by weather-related incidents, and 1,675 vehicles were rescued from snow or water.
Young man drowns in river
A young man died on Sunday night after being dragged down the Serpis river by a strong current caused by the storms.
The 23-year-old took a taxi from Muro to Benimarfull, where he was going to meet some friends in a country house to spend the night.
However, initial investigations suggest that, unable to reach his destination due to the storm, he decided to return to Muro on foot through old country lanes.
One of these paths crossed the Serpis riverbed, which is usually a harmless endeavour, but on this occasion the downpour had increased the river's water volume and strength of current.
Unable to keep a firm footing, he was dragged downstream and went missing for an entire day until his lifeless body was found near the Alcosser airfield the following afternoon by emergency service workers.
Mobile signal outage in Jalon Valley
The whole of the Jalon Valley had no Orange or Vodafone signal last week, as lightning struck a mast on the Coll de Rates last Saturday night.
Residents reported seeing an explosion on the mountain, which was deemed to be the cause of the loss of signal.
Frustrated mobile users took to social media as the network remained unavailable for five days.
Engineers had to wait for winds and rain to die down before they could attempt to repair the damage.
A power cut lasting for more than 72 hours left 13 homeowners on an urbanisation in Orba furious.
At 06.00 on Sunday morning, they lost power due to the storms.
They expected their supply to be reinstated within a short time, however they had to wait until Wednesday morning for their electricity to be restored.
The contents of their fridges and freezers had to be thrown away, as most of the residents had electric appliances and were unable to cook.
They also had to endure the cold night-time temperatures, and those with no electric heating took to their beds to keep warm.
Finestrat suffered similar supply problems and the council is currently assisting residents to make claims to electrical companies. Some areas were without power for almost three days.
Altea town centre suffered a blackout from the early hours of Sunday until midday. Some catering establishments lost all their frozen stocks.
Meanwhile, the river Algar flowed at the rate of 116,42 cubic metres of water per second and burst its banks near the river mouth in Altea, flooding adjoining roads - where cars had to be abandoned - allotments and riverside properties.
From Tuesday last week until early Monday morning, La Nucía registered a record rainfall of 304.3 litres per square metre.
With more rainfall expected this weekend, January 2017 could become the wettest on record for the town.
Precipitation over the past week has been almost the same as the whole of 2016 (329,5 litres per square metre).
Marina Alta beaches destroyed
In the Marina Alta, storms destroyed the beaches in Jávea and Dénia, wrecked homes along the Les Deveses seafront near El Verger and left thousands without electricity.
A 70-year-old woman was swept away by the current as she walked along the Avenida Jaume I in Jávea port.
Fearing certain death, she was 'lucky' to get away with a mere broken collarbone and a blow to the head, and was rushed to A&E in Dénia by the Red Cross.
At around the same time, a 22-year-old man who parked on the Levante pier in Jávea to take photos of waves reaching six-and-a-half metres in height watched in horror as his car was washed away out to sea.
Over the weekend, the Muntanyar beach road and the port esplanade – the Paseo Marina Española – were shut as wind, rain and tidal waves wrenched up trees, fences and pergolas, and even tore roofs off houses.
Damage to an electricity transformer left 4,500 residents with no electricity and shivering in blankets due to lack of heating for several hours.
The Gorgos and Girona rivers, between Jávea and El Verger, threatened to burst their banks, and Jávea town hall set up Red Cross camps in case anyone needed to be evacuated.
It was feared that the Arenal and urbanisations would be cut off if either river overflowed.
The Montgó di Bongo and La Siesta chiringuitos, or beach bars, were all but reduced to rubble with their parasols and roofs ripped off, and the former watched its tables and chairs float away down the Muntanyar road.
Rubble filled the sea-front streets, meaning even if they had been safe to walk or drive along, they would have been impassable.
A street in the Arenal was blocked by a falling lamp post, another by a tree blown down, and a third by chunks of the sports centre roof.
Shops and bars along the beaches, most of which have been there for decades, know to expect violent storms roughly every 10 years and were prepared in advance, with sand bags and plastic sheets which helped avoid any major damage.
Jávea rolls up its sleeves
Jávea had already finished the bulk of the repair work by the middle of Monday, with the sports centre getting a new roof, water ingress in the port health centre mopped up and the roof patched, water damage to the Casa del Cable port museum repaired, and rocks removed from the Avenida Muntanyar.
Criticisms were heard about how the damage on the Arenal was worsened by the fact that the major overhaul of the esplanade carried out a few years ago meant the wave-breaks being removed, but sand banks built up ahead of the last major storms have been reconstructed and a new breakwater is now under construction.
Jávea's crisis coordination team – called for an emergency meeting for the second time since September, when a massive inferno forced thousands of residents to evacuate – got all hands on deck and have broken the back of the repairs.
Mayor José Chulvi said he planned to apply for financial help from provincial, regional and national governments in light of the major expense Jávea has had to bear through natural disasters since the summer.
Pre-war houses built along Dénia's Les Deveses beach have been destroyed by the storms
CV-70 road cut off to traffic towards Benifato Albir-Altea sea-front road was cut off to traffic because of this huge hole caused by waves and falling rocks.
Jávea's Tangó bay beach bar destroyed
Cleaning up Jávea promenade
Fallen trees in Albir's Eucalyptus Park