The Italian government decided on Tuesday to allocate more than two billion euros to areas in the northeast recently affected by unprecedented floods which left 14 dead, tens of thousands displaced and significant damage.
“We have released with these first measures a total of more than two billion euros for the areas affected by the floods”, declared the head of government Giorgia Meloni at the end of a Council of Ministers.
Six months of rain in thirty-six hours
Six months of rain fell in just 36 hours last week in Emilia-Romagna, causing around 20 rivers to burst their banks, turning the streets into rivers of mud and submerging large areas of agricultural land and numerous livestock farms.
The economic consequences of these floods could be well above the two billion announced. “We know very well that we are talking about emergencies, that there will be a reconstruction phase, but we are not in a position now to quantify the needs as a whole,” said Giorgia Meloni.
Employees on technical unemployment will thus benefit from a fund of 580 million euros, the Ministry of Agriculture has provided 175 million euros for agricultural companies while around 700 million euros are planned for the industrial sector. , with particular attention to exporting companies.
“Finding two billion in a few days is not easy”
Public administration employees will be able to work from home, and those unable to work will also be paid, said the head of government.
Among the additional revenue decided to find these two billion are the temporary increase of one euro in the price of admission tickets to museums and punctures in the state lottery.
“In Italy’s current situation, finding two billion in a few days is not easy,” said Giorgia Meloni, whose country is the second most indebted eurozone member state behind Greece.
Emilia-Romagna is one of the richest regions in Italy which alone contributes nearly 10% of the national GDP. According to the farmers’ union Confagricoltura, at least 10 million fruit trees will have to be uprooted, a figure that could even reach 40 million.
“There are people who have lost everything, others who have lost almost everything,” lamented Stefano Bonaccini, president of the region, who was alongside Giorgia Meloni.
“We need urgent measures. Some sectors have been dramatically affected, I am thinking of agriculture and tourism, ”said Stefano Bonaccini, adding that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen would visit the region on Thursday.
Closed roads and discovered bombs
More than 600 roads were still closed on Monday, with the region estimating over the weekend that around 620 million euros were needed to restore the road network. These movements of water and earth led to the discovery of fourteen old bombs which were disposed of by army artificers.
“In recent days we have found 14 military bombs, most of which could not explode, but as a precaution the army artificers detonated them all,” said a local military source, without being able to specify which war dated from. these bombs.
The agricultural union Coldiretti has issued an alert concerning this problem, the passage of tractors being likely to trigger an explosion.
Climate change in question
Three weeks ago, Emilia-Romagna had already been affected by heavy rains and floods that killed two people.
According to experts, climate change due to human activity is increasing the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, such as heat waves, droughts and forest fires, but also storms accompanied by heavy rains.
Italy is paradoxically hit by a state of chronic drought. The government’s “commissioner” for drought, appointed in April, now sees his powers also extended to floods, said Giorgia Meloni on Tuesday.