Alexandria Flood: 20 years after

Alexandria Flood 1994. I was 20 years old and I remember, I remember all, I remember every single moment, even if 20 years have gone by since that 6th November 1994!

20 years today!

I remember the initial disbelief in front of the water entering the courtyard and then our home. I remember we all are convinced it will stop, that the water cannot continue to rise…and it stopped at 3m high inside our houses, our courtyards, our factories…taking away all we had.

I remember the isolation. The fact we couldn’t tell our evacuated family, our parents we were alive…at least for the moment.

I remember we climbed on to the roof as we were told before the phones stopped working. Wait on the roof, we send you the helicopter. I remember it well. Very well. Under the rain, wet and cold we lay a white sheet on the roof in order they see us among fields and water. And we stay there many hours

Rescues

We are three. All twenty-years old. When you are twenty you have the world in your hands. At least, you believe it. We started understand the helicopter would never come, then there are those cables everywhere. Can it manage?

Telephone cables are there. Are they our salvation? The dry land isn’t so far, in the highest point there. Few thousands metres.

Are you really convinced cables will support you?

No, I’m not. But I catch hold of the cables so I will not carry away by the stream. I have to search for some help. I walk on the wall.

Among the stream? You don’t make it.

Maybe. But it’s better to die trying to escape death than wait to die here like a rat in a trap.

You are crazy! Helicopters don’t stop, darkness is go on, we don’t see them anymore. Now, it’s night, we can’t even listen to them. They’ve stopped flying.

The night

I remember the cold night. In that dark attic, without electricity, without telephone, completely isolated from the world, in the open country, without seeing nor hearing anyone. The water swallowed everything downstairs. Only the three of us. Alone.

I remember the fear. A lot of fear. Who doesn’t remember the fear? It’s dark, the water level continue to rise, the stream carries into the house trunks and alluvia by an unprecedented and indescribable force: where we are the stream enter Tanaro in spite of bodies and experts’ all studies and nonsense during the past 20 years.

At each blow we start back in fear.

No one has the heart to ask THE question:

will the house hold out?

At each blow we hold our breath. One blow after another. No noise, no creaking, nothing…it hold out also this time. So for all night.

A long and endless night. Nobody sleep and talk apart from short moments where we try to defuse the situation. Always with our ears pricked

What is the noise the walls make collapsing under the water’s force?

Morning arrives too late and too slow. Helicopters start flying again and we climb on to the roof again under a fine drizzle. We’re fine and alive and the house hold out. In the light all seems easier. A new, long, exasperating and useless wait for the helicopters, too.

I remember the animals. Cattle torn-off by some kind of cattle-shed and farming while howling with pain and dying passing before our eyes: they are carried away to Tanaro. Their end is marked.

Then I remember that big cow. Caught in a vortex in our courtyard it doesn’t pass and it goes like the others, but it stay there. Harrowing lowings. In that corner it finds a step and tries to go up.

You can make it! Come on! We are all supporting you! If you go into it the floor is higher there and you’ll be safe. Go up that step and go on!

The agony last few hours. It has distracted us by our situation. The cow didn’t go up that step. It’s terrible to see an animal dying that way. But we didn’t know anything yet about the victims’ number the flood carried away.

We save ourselves

A little boat arrives slowly towards us. The stream has calmed. Who knows where it was tied. We looked at it silently. Doesn’t it go off? Does it even get closer?

There are few ropes in the car.

Of course, but the car is underwater completely.

We can make it! Help me! Open! The water isn’t even so cold. Okay. Take the longer one. You don’t have to hold it. It’s only a safety. I walk in the balance on the wall where the water arrives up to shoulders and I get to the boat. If I drift away, pull the rope.

You are crazy!

When you are twenty you are crazy. The stream is weaker but the wall is narrow. To be in the balance is not so easy. A dead dog, a water snake alive or dead, we don’t know, a bad fall…

Then the boat starts move…it goes off…no!

All is useless. Wait. Maybe not. It’s stucked again, only further. Another animal, another bad fall, another fear.

I’ve arrived! I’ve done it! I’ve got it!

But it’s not over

20 years have gone by the flood but I remember well the next terrible days.

I won’t tell you about the inefficiency of each uniform, authority, bureaucrat and of anyone deals with a position on control in the imposing state machine that moved…late, of course.

I won’t tell you about obstructionism, useless barriers and closed roads, about nonsense alarmism, compulsory evacuations when there wasn’t water anymore and about our houses empted by looters, due to the fact that who had to supervise didn’t do it.

I won’t tell you about the height of their arrogance.

You needn’t I tell you about all this. After 20 years people who experienced the flood everywhere in Italy know well that nothing has changed.

Every time it rains the water enters our houses, even 2 or 3 times during the year. The bureaucratic machine closes roads, but only during office hours. It evacuates areas, but always the day after. It informs about new waves flood that regularly don’t happen.

Alexandria Flood

November 15, 2014 – Every time it rains, twenty years later, the situation is getting this!

The propaganda

Desperation is only one side of the coin, then and now.

The other side is the one that isn’t written and that can’t be written. It’s the anger that isn’t abated after 20 years against the Institution and the Authorities of all levels yet. Against people who have the power but they are only paid and show only inefficiency, so-what attitude, bad faith, ineptitude, favouritism and many other things that I can’t write.

The day after the flood in Genoa the Rescue Services were cleaning the river in S. Michele but only in front of the church where people can see: during the past 20 years each time the river level is rising it opens out huge means paid by us only to close roads and put barriers that stay useless there for weeks.

This river is been waiting for years for interventions that never happened. It enters our houses every autumn and spring!

Travelling around the world I’ve seen lots of the worst kind of dictatorial propaganda… seeing them few thousands metres by home it’s more devastating!

But I can’t write and tell you about this, we know well what happens to FB groups like “Rio in Piena Alessandria” that was dealing with this, right? Prefects and mayors take the trouble for them. And if you don’t know, run the profile and you can read even here.

fede, inettitudine, favoritismi e molte altre cose che non si possono scrivere.

Alexandria Flood

November 15, 2014 – Every time it rains, twenty years later, the situation is getting this!

Volunteers

I’ll tell you about them. They are the volunteers that helped us and only thanks to them we managed to rebuild. I remember the mud. The mud of those days and the next months that appeared everywhere.

Volunteers arrived in a large number from whole Italy and for long time after the event. The solidarity helped practically and efficiently and on the other side encouraged our feelings. And removed the mud.

They arrived with the best will, indefatigable, young and old. Some placed their own experience at our disposal, others their own will, others their own skill. As the time went by they continued to arrive and help. And remove the mud.

We didn’t know who they were, we didn’t know their names, their stories. But they came with their shovels and their boots to remove the mud.

20 years heartfelt thanks, to all volunteers arrived in Alexandria, from all flood victims!

 

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