I’m going to keep this post short. Because it is heartbreaking.
As my last post showed, Rome nearly flooded on November 14th. The city center was mostly spared. But all kinds of people were badly affected. The homeless, for example, who ordinarily pitch camp under the bridges, near the water’s edge. Or the many sporting clubs along the river banks where Olympic dreams are nurtured. Boats large and small went destroyed. Plants, animals and even fish were destroyed en masse. I saw a fish dying in a field about one kilometer from where the river normally runs. As usual, ordinary people bore the brunt.
Photo essay taken along the banks of the Tiber river after the eleven-meter (!) surge of November 14th 2012.
Up to a foot of silt was left behind on the Lungotevere, the pedestrian road with bicycle path that runs along both sides of the Tiber. At least one large “barcone” – boat – similar to the one pictured was destroyed when it tore free of its moorings and smashed into the Ponte Milvio bridge.
A homeless person used to camping under one of Rome’s larger bridges sleeps on a mattress after having been evicted by the rising waters. On the large travertine steps someone has scrawled “You and me. One thing only. I love you.”
The possessions of the man in the other photograph were spared being washed away, but not getting wet, so they sit drying in the unseasonably warm november weather. The tent is pitched literally a few feet away from a busy, multi-lane road.
Sanpietrini – Rome’s classic cobblestones – morph into ripples of fine silt left behind by the high waters of november 14th.
One’s loss, another’s gain. This bicycle was deposited, along with other flotsam, near the Tiber island, in Rome’s center, after having been washed downstream, possibly for miles. The man toiled a few minutes to dig it up and pry it loose, then rode off on it.
This fiberglass dinghy complete with Evinrude outboard engine washed up on the Tiber’s right bank a little downstream from Ponte Milvio.
Entire trees were washed downstream. This pile of logs was fished out of the river with a crane as they were stacking up against a boat moored to the river banks. Note the carbon-fiber professional rowing oar washed away from one of Rome’s many riverside sporting clubs.
This is farther downstream, by the Tiber island. Another professional rowing oar was left stuck in the branches, along with all kinds of rags and bits of plastic.
Most of the things washed away by the raging waters were total write-offs. This canoe, deposited next to a car tire along the banks of the Tiber island appeared in brand new condition, but was badly cracked.
A small leaf stuck in her hair, our neighbor Anna is far too proud to betray any emotion as she stands outside her house, flooded in two feet of water in the countriside just north of Rome. In order to spare the city center from flooding, engineers operated the dams in order to flood this part of the river valley instead. The losses suffered were incalculable: people had to dump mattresses, furniture, electronics and all sorts of personal things…
We are not complaining. It could have been worse.
Had, however, Romans been given proper warning of what was rolling down the mountain towards the city (we weren’t), much of the loss could have been avoided. Those canoes, just one example, are neither cheap nor heavy. Raising them a few feet would have taken mere minutes. Had we been warned.