Adventures in Val Chisone and around

Adventures, observations,events and comments on life in an alpine valley in Italy from an English family living next door to the largest fortress in Europe. (Fenestrelle)
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Saturday, 31 May 2008

Floods and disasters

Well it has been a very long time since I have written a blog! I have a sack of excuses but at the end of it I have been far too busy with other projects to have time to write. I suppose that is a good thing? We have had plenty of guests and they need looking after. On top of this I have been working on a new website which will hopefully be live by the end of June and I have been away exploring other parts of this glorious country called Italy.

The main reason for writing at the moment is to explain what has been happening locally. You may (or probably have not) heard that Northern Italy has been hit by severe rain storms, landslides and floods. Our area was hit hard with over three weeks of continual rain which led to the river and many of its feeder streams to overflow. It can certainly be described as a disaster and some reckon it to be on a par or worse than the floods of 2000.
Some of the disaster could have been averted but we live in Italy where things are never done as they should, work is never finished properly and it is never properly thought through in the first place. Here at Chambons the river burst its banks just below the main bridge causing the river to create a new path through a meadow and close to some buildings. The "authorities" sent 3 large excavators that worked very hard building a wall on the bank of the river. Only they were working on the wrong side of the river!!!! Not only did this wall fail to protect the area it actually aggravated the problem on the other bank. The operators were not entirely to blame after all they were digging where they were told to by the local surveyors and engineers told them to even though after 5 hours of work it was obvious that the wall was making the situation worse.

The only thing that saved the day was the fact that the rain had stopped and the flow was relenting. This morning they had managed to close the breach by placing large boulders in the right place.
Other parts of the riverbank were eroded due to the failure to understand that if you strengthen one part you have to do it all. Otherwise one just transfers the problem.
I sincerely hope that they learn from this experience(but doubt that they will) and look to nature to redesign the defences.
We now live in a village with only one bridge accross the river and two paths which are currently unpassable.

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