Torrential rain poured down about 200 millimeters (nearly 8 inches) of water, in three hours, over a small area of Tuscany, Italy. Rivers and streams overflowed, flooding the countryside and towns. The November 2, 2023, downpour was an exceptional disturbance, the likes of which had not been seen for 50 years. The flood took the lives of seven people and caused extensive damage. The hardest hit provinces were Prato, Pisa, Florence, and Pistoia. In Campi Bisenzio, near Prato, roads were flooded by the Bisenzio river, which broke its banks.
The national chapter of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA Italy) immediately intervened in this emergency situation and has been working day and night in Campi Bisenzio since Friday, November 3. On site, it has provided a 24-hour water pumping machine. In this way, several emergency situations have been resolved. Completely flooded garages and cellars were freed, with the water having reached a height of six feet.
"It's really a very critical situation," commented Dag Pontvik, director of ADRA Italy, on the front line of the emergency relief effort. "Since Friday afternoon, we have been intervening with a pump to suck the water out of the flooded premises.”
The volunteers often found it difficult to access some areas of the city. "On Saturday morning," explained Noemi Mezzelani, contact person for ADRA Italy, "the streets were completely flooded with about 60 centimeters [approx. 2 feet] of water. As the van passed by, people were begging us to go slowly because the movement was creating waves and causing the water to flow back into the houses."
With the water gone, a group of ADRA volunteers is now available to remove the mud from the streets.
"We have also ordered a second water pump precisely to intensify aid and speed up the absorption of water in areas that have not yet received relief and are completely isolated," said Mezzelani.
ADRA has also made clothing and food products available for the families that are in dire straits. "We are present on several fronts," concluded Mezzelani, "and we have guaranteed constant assistance both with regard to the water pumps and in other areas, 24 hours a day."
The emergency has only just begun, and the time frame to return to normal is still long. "We have identified an area that has not yet been followed up on, and we are giving support there," Pontvik reported. "We will continue to monitor, operate, and try to stay close to the people in the coming days. So not only action and concrete help, but also creating a space for listening and sharing small gestures that make families feel a little closer. We want to express solidarity in this complex situation that is just starting. There is also a need for comfort, in addition to practical needs. And ADRA never underestimates this.”
Sky TG24 also talked about ADRA Italy in a report on the flooding in Tuscany. Watch it at this link.