OLIVA FLOOD COM­MEM­O­RA­TION

Ex­hi­bi­tion shows hor­ri­fy­ing footage of dis­as­ter 30 years on: Six feet of wa­ter in streets, 32 inches of rain in one day and res­i­dents trapped in their homes

Costa Levante News - - FRONT PAGE -

By Sa­man­tha Kett SPAIN'S worst floods in liv­ing his­tory hit La Safor (Va­len­cia prov­ince) exactly 30 years ago on Fri­day, with wa­ter lev­els ris­ing so high that front doors in some ar­eas were un­der wa­ter.

Any­one who wants to learn about the hor­rors of the dis­as­ter of 1987 can find out more through an ex­hi­bi­tion of pho­tos and other mem­o­ra­bilia at Oliva's Olímpia Theatre on the C/ Mayor un­til the end of Novem­ber.

In just 24 hours, a to­tal of 817 litres of rain per square me­tre fell – 81.7 cen­time­tres, or over 2'8” - the most ever seen in the whole of the Ibe­rian main­land, which in­cludes Spain, Por­tu­gal, An­dorra and Gi­bral­tar.

Rainfall of 40 litres per square me­tre in 24 hours – four cen­time­tres, or just un­der two inches – is con­sid­ered a full­blown gota fría and in­surance com­pa­nies deem it se­vere enough to cause claimable dam­age to a prop­erly built and main­tained house.

With over 20 times this amount, the dev­as­ta­tion was so ex­treme that, even now, resi- dents who remember it be­gin to pray when­ever the heav­ens open.

On the 25th an­niver­sary of the floods, in Novem­ber 2012, Costa News spoke to Cristina from Be­niopa, across the dry riverbed from Gan­dia, who was 10 years old at the time.

The riverbed was cer­tainly not dry that day – in fact, it burst its banks and the streets were over two me­tres deep in gush­ing wa­ter.

“We had to go up on the roof of our school, and my un­cle, a teacher, was try­ing to calm us down,” Cristina told us.

“My cousins were swept down the road by the cur­rent and formed a hu­man chain, yelling for help.

“For­tu­nately, my dad was able to grab one of their hands and drag them in­doors.”

The Army was drafted in, and for days, res­i­dents were trapped in the vil­lage and had to queue for a bot­tle of wa­ter and a bread roll each, handed out by sol­diers.

Ev­ery­one, even the el­derly, dis­abled and chil­dren, had to col­lect their own to stop any­one amass­ing sup­plies.

Cristina's mother found a stale dough­nut and split it be­tween them, her fa­ther and sis­ter Fanny.

“It tasted like heaven, we were so hun­gry,” she says.

“Even now, my mum keeps her cup­boards stocked up per­ma­nently 'just in case'.”

An im­age of the flood in La Font d'En Car­ròs

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