Ten days on from the devastating floods that hit Albufeira on November 1, insurance companies have revealed that they are dealing with claims that top €10 million – and that’s just their side of the tragedy.
For every claim being processed right now, there is at least another case where people affected were not properly insured – or indeed not insured at all.
Last week national tabloid Correio da Manhã pointed to as many as 50% of those hit by the floods having no form of protection.
Even so, the government decided against declaring a state of public calamity.
Instead – following a visit by the current interior minister that will go down in history for its lack of PR finesse – three support funds have been made available with the hope that money coming in will get the town back on its feet.
Mayor Carlos Sousa e Silva has told newspapers that he is “not convinced” that the funds will answer all the town’s needs. “Let’s see”, is the best he could come up with – but meantime civil efforts have transformed the muddied “baixa” district, and an official appeal fund, backed by the council and Red Cross, has been started (see details below).
Within hours of the disaster that sparked flash-floods reaching depths of 1.8 metres, a Facebook page had been created that is still coordinating efforts and bringing messages of support from far and wide. Sir Cliff Richard posted a video clip on Monday evening, saying he hoped the town he loved so much got back on its feet “very very soon”.
But as everyone now accepts, this was a tragedy waiting to happen due to uncontrolled building in flood-risk areas. And while a council inquiry is ongoing, reports in the press claim municipal pipes were blocked even before the torrential downpours that brought 102 litres of rain per square metre in a little over eight hours.
Sunday’s Correio da Manhã explains that one of the squares in the “baixa” district was already flooded before November 1, and thus “all the areas in the flood-risk part of town” did not stand a chance.
Meantime, the surreal utterances made by visiting Interior Minister Calvão da Silva have been widely discussed in the press, with one paper explaining the politician had started life in a monastery.
Suffice it to say that many felt after a disaster of Albufeira’s proporations, townsfolk would have been better served by a visit from the President of the Republic, or even the prime minister, rather than a man who had “pondered the monastic life” and clearly had limited people skills.
For now, the clean-up operation continues, with the town adamant that it will be back in business for the Christmas and New Year crowds. Mayor Sousa e Silva has confirmed the annual New Year’s Eve festivities in Praia dos Pescadores will be going ahead, with popular singer Anselmo Ralph already confirmed as one of the star attractions.
Meantime, the official appeal is accepting donations:
Bank: Crédito Agrícola Albufeira
Account name : Albuf Unida e Solidária-Intempérie de 01-NOV 2015
NIB: 0045 7012 40276144016 40
IBAN: PT50-0045 7012 4027 6144 0164 0
By NATASHA DONN [email protected]
Photo: BRUNO FILIPE PIRES/OPEN MEDIA GROUP