Army comes to the rescue after heavy flooding in northern Spain

by Lorraine Williamson
heavy flooding - https://twitter.com/AAretxaba/status/1469953547190116363/photo/1

Northern Spain is facing severe flooding after heavy rain and melting snow. The river Ebro has burst its banks and the army has been deployed to help. Meanwhile, there have been two fatalities. 

On Sunday, during her visit to various municipalities in Navarre affected by the floods, the regional prime minister of Navarre, María Chivite, announced that she was asking the Spanish state to declare the affected area a natural disaster area. This will allow national and European aid to be received.  

A virtual meeting has been called for on Monday afternoon with the councils of 74 municipalities that suffered damage as a result of the floods. This is according to a press release from the regional government. They will jointly assess the damage. This will be in order to obtain the necessary aid in view of the declaration of a state of emergency. 

Chivite thanked volunteers and emergency services, including the fire brigade and the army, who helped the people affected. She expressed her support for mayors and town councils in this difficult time. And, furthermore, she paid tribute to the two fatalities in the towns of Sunbilla and Elizondo. Chivite also said she had been in contact with the Spanish President, Pedro Sánchez, informing him of developments. 

Future 

Finally, she pointed out that, ‘apart from the urgent need to repair this damage, it is also very important to work on everything related to flood planning for the future. Because Navarre will have to live with it and be prepared so that future floods have the least possible impact’.  

Heavy flooding of the Ebro in Tudela 

In Navarre, the village of Tudela was completely flooded when the Ebro overflowed its banks. 

More than 1.5 metres of water flooded the streets. At its peak, 2,662 cubic metres of water flowed per second,. This made the situation no less intense than in 2015 and 2018. The usual places, low parts of the old town close to the River Ebro, were flooded by sewage system filtration. The flooded area was closed to traffic by the city council. And, consequently, access to the bridge over the Ebro was also prohibited. So far, no incidents have been reported ‘outside the normal in this exceptional situation’. However, garages, shallow areas, and some shops have been flooded, according to the regional government. 

María Chivite was briefed on the situation in Tudela by the mayor of Tudela, members of the municipal council, heads of the municipal police, and emergency services. She praised the coordinated actions carried out by the services of the Government of Navarre as well as the town councils and local authorities. 

Other affected municipalities in Navarre 

In the municipality of Casteón, the flood reached its peak at 10.30 pm on Saturday, in San Adrián at around 4.00 am. No people were evacuated there. 

The high level of the Ebro prevents the normal drainage of the Ega, a tributary of the Ebro, and therefore the level remains high, although upstream of the Ebro it is slowly falling. In Ribaforada the whole of the horticultural area has been flooded, as have Cabanillas and Fontellas.  

Call to stay away from the affected area 

The Government of Navarre and the municipalities affected by the floods are appealing to the population not to come to the flooded areas, since irresponsible and imprudent behaviour has already occurred. This poses a risk both to the emergency services and to the people themselves. A number of roads have been closed as a precaution.  

Alertness in Aragón 

The situation in Aragón, the region next to Navarre, is also serious. The village of Novillas is already suffering from flooding and the army has been deployed there too to prevent the village from flooding with water bags and dykes of sand. 

Related article: Just 10 days ago, celebrated Día de Navarra

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