Déjà vu: Here we go again…



We are, once again, on a level 2 storm warning.  ARPAL (which stands for “Agenzia Regionale per la Protezione dell’Ambiente Ligure“) currently has two levels of alert:  level 1 (think of it as a yellow “proceed with caution” light) and level 2 (the highest level of alert, a so-called red light where everything comes to a grinding halt).  We’ve had multiple back-to-back alerts in just this past month.

Alert in Liguria

Trails throughout the Cinque Terre are currently closed.  All local schools have been cancelled.  Our day-to-day lives are obviously interrupted.  This is starting to feel like a throwback to Aesop’s Fable, “The Boy That Cried Wolf.”  Yes, we are in an area that is extremely prone to hydrogeological hazards (we know this all too well, especially considering the disastrous 2011 flooding).  But does that mean that every single time a storm comes through we need to go into a state of alert?  From a psychological standpoint, it’s unnerving (to say the least).

As we all know, there are always two sides to every coin.  OF COURSE, we’d rather be safe than sorry.  OF COURSE, we don’t want to put our loved ones (or anyone else, for that matter) at risk.  I think the reasoning behind the abundance of alerts in the past few weeks stems from recent lawsuits involving mayors and public officials (in other cities in Italy that have suffered from flooding or other natural disasters). These public officials are being held responsible for deaths due to unheeded weather alerts.  It’s yet to be seen whether they’ll actually be found guilty, but in the meantime I’d say it’s enough to have most mayors and public officials shaking in their boots.  The easy way for local city governments to wash their hands of the responsibility is to declare a state of alert whenever ARPAL sounds the alarm.  As soon as that happens, emergency measures go into effect (including closing the schools, trails, etc.).  The obvious flip side to having so many alerts is that the local population becomes desensitized and indifferent to them, thus undermining the whole point of the alerts to begin with.

Cinque Terre back on alert

***UPDATE***  The level 2 alert has been extended until 3pm today.  We’ve had lots of rain and gusty winds but as far as the Cinque Terre is concerned so far, so good.  However, the storm has caused extensive flooding just to the south of us in Marina di Carrara.  Fingers crossed that the alert is soon lifted and that we can go back to life as normal.

Rough seas and stormy skies in Riomaggiore on November 4, 2014

Rough seas and stormy skies in Riomaggiore on November 4, 2014

The Cinque Terre is back on a level 2 storm warning starting tonight at 9pm until tomorrow (November 5th) at midnight.  Precautionary measures such as closure of local schools as well as the hiking trails throughout the Cinque Terre National Park will be in effect.


Mother Nature has Cinque Terre on edge

Rough seas, cloudy skies in Cinque Terre

The memory of the devastating October 25, 2011 alluvione (flood) that affected Vernazza and Monterosso is still very fresh in the minds of Cinque Terre villagers. If you don’t have a clue as to what I’m talking about just search YouTube; the videos are terrifying.

Liguria, the region in which the Cinque Terre villages are located, is infamous for hydrogeological hazards and catastrophes. In the past two days Genoa (our region’s principal city) has been pummeled by unrelenting rain which has led to extensive flooding, property damage and loss of life.

The Cinque Terre villages, as well as the surrounding areas, have been placed on a level 2 alert up until midnight on Monday. As a precautionary measure, all local schools have been cancelled for Monday.

I would be lying if I said we aren’t all feeling a little nervous, and the fact that we are so close to the anniversary of the previous flood doesn’t help. I think we will all breathe a little easier once the alert is repealed on Monday.

If you are currently in the Cinque Terre my advice is to stay indoors during stormy weather and to avoid low-lying areas in case of torrential rains. When in doubt, make your way to higher ground.

Hopefully this will all be a false alarm but as we’ve learned from the past, it’s better to be safe than sorry.