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
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