The government declares Malaga an area "seriously" affected by flooding
The central government has declared a civil emergency in the Andalusian provinces of Malaga, Cádiz, and Huelva following last week's heavy rainfall. In Malaga province alone, some 6,000 people across 20 municipalities have been affected by the flooding.
Government spokesman Íñigo Méndez de Vigo stated following the declaration that it is now down to the provinces to make their own assessment of the damage "to speed up procedures and get assistance out in a fast and effective manner."
Insurers have claimed that it will cost them around 25 million euros to put right the damage to people’s properties caused by the extreme rain that hit the western Costa del Sol, Guadalhorce valley and Malaga city.
The worst rain seen in Malaga province since 2012 led to the death of one person in Estepona and widespread damage elsewhere. In total 805 emergency incidents were reported in a single day.
Five government-funded insurance assessors toured the affected areas early this week to begin to map out the damage. Early assessments were that the amount of damage is three times greater than in 2012, although this is still a lot less than the 149 million euros of destruction in the record floods of 1989.
“These are emergency estimates to get an idea how to manage the incident,” said Alejandro Izuzquiza of the Consorcio de Compensación de Seguros (insurance compensation consortium), which takes over claims for natural disasters from normal insurance companies.
In the first 24 hours after Sunday’s deluge, the organisation received 625 claim requests, of which over half were from homeowners. By Thursday this figure had gone up to more than 1,950 claims.
The consortium has said that the first payments could be made within ten days.
Criticism over past decisions
The problems caused by the rain have swung the spotlight back onto a series of flood prevention measures that have been in the planning stage for many years.
In Malaga city, politicians clashed this week over who should be responsible for replacing the MA-21 road bridge over the Guadalhorce river near the airport. It’s narrow arches are seen as a major cause of regular flooding in the Guadalhorce valley as water backs up. Town hall, Junta and central government cannot agree on who should pay to replace it.
Experts have also criticised past construction policies that have allowed building on flood plains or near hidden underground streams.
Fast emergency response
As different authorities and government departments worked out how to arrange compensation, there was widespread praise for the way emergency services at a local, regional and national level worked together to help those affected.
The Spanish met office changed its weather warning from amber to red for a time on Sunday morning, and the Junta de Andalucía raised its emergency alert to category 2, meaning provincial emergency services were on the point of needing military help.
Among areas worst hit was Estepona, which was already recovering from particularly heavy rain on the previous Thursday. On Sunday over 200mm fell in just 12 hours, leading to 460 emergency calls, mostly related to cars being trapped in the rising water.
A twenty-three-year-old Romanian woman was found dead in a basement nightclub where she had been sleeping. Trapped by rising water levels, she had called a friend to raise the alarm, however emergency services were unable to reach her in time.
Nearby Manilva and Casares were greatly affected, with the main A7underpass in Sabinillas completely filling with water for a time.
Marbella town hall officials reported this week that the resort’s coastline had suffered the worst damage for 20 years, with some beach bars and walkways being swept away. Two bridges on the sea front were brought down by the force of water flowing in the streams below. The town’s Plaza de Toros area was also particularly badly affected.
Areas of Mijas were also hit by the torrential rain and consequent flooding. On Sunday Mijas Pueblo recorded the greatest rainfall figure in the province, some 220mm in one day. The road to Benalmádena Pueblo was cut off by falling rocks.
In the lower areas of the district, the Gomenaro river burst its banks and the Fuengirola river increased its levels significantly, threatening homes and closing roads. The Mijas animal shelter, PAD, sent out an urgent appeal for volunteers to help rescue animals as the premises flooded.
The Guadalhorce valley didn’t escape the misery either. Estación de Cártama, Doña Ana and Aljaima were particularly badly affected as the Guadalhorce river burst its banks. Houses in Doña Ana were cut off and some residents, surprised by the speed that the water was rising, had to be rescued from their roofs by the emergency services in some cases by helicopter. Road closures also affected Cártama and Alhaurín de la Torre among other areas.
Streets were blocked around Malaga city, including the MA-21, blocking the old access road into the airport. In Malaga 56mm fell in just an hour between 7am and 8am. Malaga’s marathon race was cancelled and the city’s metro service stopped as water flooded into stations.
Classes were suspended on Monday in Estepona, Manilva, Casares, Mijas and Cártama.
President of the Junta de Andalucía, Susana Díaz, was joined by Spain’s Interior Minister, Juan Ignacio Zoido, on Sunday evening in Malaga’s emergency control room. Both politicians also visited some of the areas most affected. King Felipe rang some of the area’s mayors to offer his support for the rescue efforts.source surinenglish