“Absolutely do not deny the importance of climate changes – that they become on the government’s agenda the pivot of a process of technological and cultural acceleration for ours safety – but it is enough to blame only climate change when the causes are unrealized works and the lack of concrete actions to prepare citizens for these exceptional events. For frequent events, the work that the competent administrations carry out for the ordinary administration and management of floods is quite efficient, but for events such as that of September 15 that hit the Marche region, extraordinary measures and works are required. “, He begins Fernando Nardi before telling us what happened a few days ago in the Marche.
These extraordinary measures in Italy they are always carried out after damage and deaths have occurred. Think of the hydraulic safety measures in Genoa, the spillway of the Bisagno stream. Even the interventions on the Misa in the Marche had already been identified in the 80s but the works have been stopped and not implemented for years. Surely the work will be carried out as soon as the funeral is finished. So it was for the Sarno disaster, so for the floods in Genoa and so it is feared that they will do again and again for the next calamitous events.
Nobody wants to deny the importance and impact of climate change on our lives, a fundamental issue for security policy for our present and for our future, but blaming climate change is the easiest answer for those who he knows the problem, but he doesn’t want to solve it; it is like saying that the problem is someone else’s. We have built houses a few meters from the courses ofwater knowing that the area had been flooded a few years earlier and want to blame the climate impact of population growth in India and China?
The problem and the causes of the devastating effects of hydrogeological risk they are under our feet, in front of our eyes, and unfortunately they are many. The problem is the houses built along the floodplain areas of the rivers, sometimes inside the river bed; once the damage has been done and known, the problem shifts to the unrealized safety works. The problem is also the lack of knowledge and preparation to handle these events on the part of citizens. When you perceive danger, you don’t have to go to save the car or the jewels in the basement, but to secure your life. It is not necessary to take the car, but to know – if you live near a river in a floodable area – which are the safe places to take shelter near your home.
On the subject of work and the responsibilities of the Public administration, we have a multitude of bodies responsible for the knowledge, awareness and mitigation of hydrogeological risk. In Italy, we have an advanced system of laws, standards and the high capacity and skills of all professionals, institutions, universities and technical professions are at the forefront. Like all sectors, we suffer from the heaviness and complexity of the bureaucratic system which in many cases prevents effective and rapid actions, with too many bodies that sometimes do not align themselves and reproach responsibility, but the progress of knowledge and technology has been remarkable in the last years. The Hydrogeological Asset Plans, the PAI, may in some cases not be up-to-date and accurate throughout the Italian territory, but they are there. Undoubtedly, it is possible to do better and more even in the mapping of the national territory of the areas at risk, but the PAI of the Marche Region indicated the affected areas as at potential risk and the memory of recent past events did not determine any element of uncertainty on this aspect. .
It is important to dwell for this event on the Civil Protection system and procedures and the issue of the lack of alert: the level of alert it was given as yellow, that is locally dangerous phenomena, but no damage to people and things. If they had given an orange alert level, that is, possible dangers to people and things, it would have been practically the same. Even under conditions of orange or even red alert, even in the presence of a plan civil protection up-to-date and accurate, evacuating is a mission impossible. Here it is important to know that the storm cell that discharged on the Misa basin could have unloaded, moving only a few kilometers, into the valley of other Marche coastal basins, impossible to predict exactly and sufficiently in advance where exactly a rare event will occur and so locally intense. Even knowing the valley areas and mapping the most dangerous areas house by house, evacuation would not have been a viable measure. You can’t evacuate an entire region in cases like this. The hydrogeomorphological characteristics of our peninsula and our islands determine flood events that develop in a few hours, sometimes in minutes. There are no times for forecasting and evacuation. Here the lack of alertness will have weighed, but it is more correct to speak of a lack of awareness and preparation of the population..
The precipitation event of the Marche region it discharged an intensity of 90 millimeters per hour, concentrating almost 300 mm in 4 hours and a total of 400 mm of rain right in the catchment area of the Misa river, triggering an event of rare exceptionality that produced a flood wave of much greater capacity than the capacity of the watercourse. In the same catchment area in 2014, the same areas had been hit with almost the same severity. The Hydrogeological Plan recognizes the area as at hydraulic risk, that is subject to possible flooding phenomena, but even for such exceptional events something can and must be done, the massacre could have been avoided.CopyAMP code
First of all, to understand once and for all the importance of prevention, the ordinary maintenance of waterways must be carried out with competence and regularity, extraordinary works require years and complex studies. The issue is not easy since it is not possible to secure the whole of Italy for rare events, but in known cases where lives are at risk, extraordinary interventions to mitigate the hydrogeological risk must be prioritized and done quickly by putting economic resources and de-bureaucratizing the procedures.
Again on the issue of emergency management, it is important to underline here the problem of alertness and citizens’ awareness and knowledge. Since it is not possible to evacuate, citizens must be educated. Most people die from driving or going to the basement. We need to practice, do more education in schools and here technology plays a fundamental role. We have experimental population warning systems via SMS or notifications that can arrive on our mobile phones, including geolocalizing citizens living in a high-risk area. We must make these systems operational, but above all the population must be aware of these systems and the risks and be trained in “peacetime”, not the day after when the deaths are counted. Never as in this case the culture of territory and hydrogeological risk could have saved many human lives.
The interactive map on the cover was produced by researchers Antonio Annis and Andrea Spasiano, hydrogeological risk experts from the WARREDOC research center and GRIDDIT academic spinoff, coordinated by prof. Fernando Nardi.