Flooding in Lisbon

Flooding in Greater Lisbon: “It’s not over yet” warns IPMA

Downtown Algés “impassable” due to heavy rains overnight

Residents in the Greater Lisbon area woke up this morning to warnings that the bad weather that is causing flooding in low-lying areas is not over yet.

IPMA weather forecasters stress “more rain is on the way”. The chaos and general misery is “not over yet”.

Right now, it is the downtown area of Algés that has been worst affected.

The local municipality has already announced that roads downtown are “impassable”, appealing to drivers to take “maximum care” along the various roads and streets of the borough.

Since the widespread flooding of last Wednesday night, Civil Protection authorities have been quick to send out alerts in the hope that citizens restrict journeys to the absolute minimum.

Even so, hundreds of calls reporting incidents caused by the bad weather have streamed in overnight. Rail services have been suspended in the north and around Sintra/ Cascais, and various districts are still under orange alerts for further flooding and increased river flows (namely Leiria, Setúbal, Lisbon, Évora, Santarém and Portalegre).

Schools in Greater Lisbon have been left to decide whether or not it is safe to open. Oeiras, for example, has all its schools closed today, with mayor Isaltino Morais saying “it is fundamental that everyone remains at home…”

Early this morning a large number of major roads in Lisbon were either closed, or with limited traffic flow.

Mayor Carlos Moedas has called the situation in many areas of the city as “in a state of catastrophe”.

The problem has been simply that there hasn’t been enough space between downpours for authorities to make much of a difference. “We have basically had six days between the last event, and this really turns everything into a catastrophe in the informal sense of the word – not in the formal sense of the word – but for those living through this situation, for Lisbon residents who have been left with nothing, without a home, this really is a catastrophe”.

Mr Moedas was referring to the families whose homes have been so badly affected by the downpours that they have had to be temporarily rehoused. Eight people in Loures found themselves in this situation overnight, 22 in Alcântara and 17 in Seixal, while numerous commercial premises in the capital’s low-lying areas have suffered unquantifiable damages (many still unaware of what ‘support’ may eventually come through for them).

Talking to journalists early this morning, IPMA president Miguel Miranda said: “Today is the day to stay at home, work from home, a little bit like we did during the pandemic. It’s the only way we have of helping those who are on the streets working for us (…) precipitation per hour and its intensity was not as high” (as last Wednesday), he conceded, but “the total amount of water that fell is really very high (…) This is not over, we will have a few hours of relative peace, but in a few hours we will be hit again by an active meteorological system and that can generate, once again, precipitation and even convection”, he warned. “And it could be worse…

For the time being, much of the Algarve has ‘escaped’ drama – beyond the damages caused in low-lying areas of Faro and Albufeira last week (see update to come).

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com