Devastating floods leave behind wrecked farms and ruined homes in northern Italy

Floods that killed nine people in Italy’s northern Emilia-Romagna region caused billions of dollars worth of damage and hit agriculture particularly hard, the regional governor said on Thursday.

Torrential rains this week devastated the eastern side of the region, known as Romagna, with up to 300 landslides, 23 overflowing rivers, some 400 roads damaged or destroyed, and 42 flooded municipalities.

“We are facing a new earthquake,” Emilia-Romagna President Stefano Bonaccini told reporters, recalling the seismic events that struck the region in 2012, destroying thousands of homes.

Noting that since then “almost everything” had been rebuilt, Bonaccini said, “that experience showed us that it can be done, and we will rebuild everything (again), I am sure of that.”

Rescuers evacuate residents in a dinghy across a flooded street in Lugo, Italy, on Thursday.Andreas Solaro / AFP via Getty Images

According to the Coldiretti agricultural association, more than 5,000 farms were left under water in the region, which includes a so-called “Fruit Valley”, as well as corn and grain fields.

“We had already estimated almost 1 billion euros of damage (from those floods), so imagine how much the figure will rise” with the new disaster, Bonaccini said, adding it was too early to give precise figures.

The floods are the latest in a series of extreme weather events that have slammed Italy over the past year, as once exceptional disasters become a regular part of life.

The government has promised almost $22 million in emergency aid, on top of around $10 million allocated in response to previous floods two weeks ago, which killed at least two people.

Luxury sportscar maker Ferrari, which is based in Emilia-Romagna, announced a large donation.

At least 10,000 people were forced to leave their homes, and many of those who remained in flooded areas were left with no electricity. One of the dead was swept away from her home and washed up on a beach some 20 miles away.

In the town of Cesena, rain stopped and waters largely receded, allowing locals to regain access to their mud-wrecked homes, including couple Maurizio Cola and Raffaella Zanni who escaped early on Wednesday.

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