BAT­TERED COSTA

Gov­ern­ment and lo­cal coun­cils out to re­pair the huge dam­age caused by week­end storms

Costa Blanca News (North Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - By James Parkes

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.

Power cuts

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.

Photo by An­gel Gar­cia

Pre-war houses built along Dé­nia's Les Deveses beach have been de­stroyed by the storms

Photo by Irena Bodnarec

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

Photo by Jas­mine Roka­dia

Fallen trees in Al­bir's Eu­ca­lyp­tus Park

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