Fix Perspective

Deadly Flooding Forces Genoa To Its Knees

By Eugenia Durante
Senior Reporter

MILAN, Italy – It was
Friday afternoon. I was having a coffee at the university bar, ready to spend a
boring and rainy afternoon in Milan studying and working on my translations,
when my boyfriend told me, “Hey, it seems like it is raining cats and dogs in
Genoa!” I laughed and told him, “I know, it is always like that. We are used to
huge rains.”

I couldn’t imagine what
was really going on in my hometown.
When I got to the
school’s library and switched on my computer, I felt paralysed. The online front
pages of La Repubblica, the country’s main newspaper, were filled with pictures
of Genoa literally sunken by meters of water and mud.
After a really bad
rain, one of the many rivers which cross the city overflowed its banks and an
extraordinary amount of water poured into the streets, breaking into houses and
shops and sweeping away cars and debris.
I immediately thought
about my parents and closest friends, who work and study in the city center. I
tried to call them on the phone, but the communication had been cutoff.
I couldn’t imagine how
bad the situation was – it seemed to me unreal. I watched the pictures of the
familiar streets where I grew up, now completely covered by mud.
On the paper’s website,
I watched horrifying videos of people trying to get out of cars, literally
swimming in the water, some of them trying not to be carried away by the
current. I watched buses and cars floating on the streets like toys, crashing
into each other and breaking into shops and houses.
I read about missing people
and about six victims – two of them children – and it seemed to me even more
unreal. I finally managed to call my parents and friends and check on them.
They were all fine, but I wasn’t completely relieved.
It is not easy to
realize how painful seeing your town in such a catastrophic situation can be. I
don’t feel particularly devoted to my city, but watching Genoa drowning under
rain and mud has been extremely shocking.
I simply found it hard
to believe that six people had lost their lives in such a horrible, unexpected
way. Sphresa Dajla, 28, was carried away by the flood while trying to save her
daughters Janissa and Gioia Dajla, 1 and 8 years old, La Repubblica reported.
They all died.
Eugenia Durante /

The center of Genoa, Italy,
before the recent flooding

The paper also reported
that Serena Costa, 19 years old, died while trying to get her brother home from
school after the start of the deluge. Angela Chiaramonte, 40, lost her life
while getting her son home from school, too, together with Evelina Pietranera,
What has been called
“the massacre of the innocents” aroused a harsh polemic towards the municipality’s
decision not to close schools, although the state of alert had been given.
Many people claim that
the authorities are directly responsible for the victims because they didn’t
take sufficient safety measures. Marta Vincenzi, Genoa’s mayor, is still
defending her decision, arguing that closing schools would have just put many
parents on the streets, taking children to their grandparents or babysitters
while going to work.
Genoa Attorney General
Vincenzo Scolastico stabbed at the property speculation and the dangerous
building construction too close to the river that affects the city.
Moreover, cuts in
financial aid to Italy’s towns from the national budget drastically reduced
available funds for road repairs and projects to ensure environmental safety
weighs into the number of victims, too.
It is not the first
time Genoa has had to tackle the plague of floods.
Last year, the district
of Sestri Ponente was badly hit by a flood which caused major damages to houses
and businesses.
Similar problems arose
in 1992 and 1993, but the worst took place in 1970, when two rivers overran their
banks and Genoa’s city center literally drowned. It was not very different from
the current one, if truth be told.
So why is it so hard to
learn from the past? How many victims must the floods claim before authorities
take serious measures to minimize damages caused by natural disasters?
The answer is still
blowing in the wind. But now, it will take a very long time for Genoa to rise
again, and it will be mostly impossible to heal all the scars – for four
families, at least.