January 25, 2021

The Government ignored a report of 2015 that foresaw the catastrophe in Sant Llorenç

The Government ignored a report of 2015 that foresaw the catastrophe in Sant Llorenç


A strategic environmental study of July 2015, stamped by the Regional Executive and included in the Flood Risk Management Plan (PGRI), warned that Sant Llorenç is in a zone of "high or very high" risk of flooding. Thus, the Government of the Balearic Islands urged the consistories of those areas to develop their own Action Plan. LA RAZÓN has tried unsuccessfully to contact municipal sources to verify the existence of this protocol. A memory of Hazard and Flood Risk Maps in the Balearic River Basin of the Ministry of Environment verified the danger of overflowing in January 2016. As if that were not enough, the City Council and the Government had been mapping for 16 years of the land in which twelve people have lost their lives warning that what happened on Tuesday night could happen. Alfredo Barón, geologist and head of water resources for the Government for decades, says that in 2002 a report was prepared on the state of the area that confirmed that part of the town was in flooding. The torrent of Ses Planes is one of the eleven most dangerous points of the Balearic archipelago and therefore its actions were of «top priority».

The member of the Association of Geologists of the Balearic Islands and honorary collaborator of the UIB reminds that it is necessary to take into account that the zones "are flooded, and if we dedicate ourselves to occupying them with homes and buildings disasters occur. And they are getting bigger, "says Barón, who remembers that after channeling a torrent" a sense of false security is created, so that when it rains harder the capacity for reaction is lost ". In this case, this "false sense of security" leaves, at the close of this edition, twelve fatalities and one missing child. And the tragedy could have been even greater. According to data collected in that PGRI, in 2015, of the 7,857 inhabitants registered in Sant Llorenç des Cadassar, 51 lived in areas with a high probability of flooding, 99 in areas of medium risk, and 117 in places with low probability.

Baron remembers that these tragedies are "unpredictable", but that they are repeated every five or six years. "Then we forget, that's why every time we occupy these places more. We are taking space from the flood zone of the river, and that is what we pay in the end, "he stresses. In fact, the Flood Risk Management Plan contemplates that the measures collected in it are aimed at "improving the state of water bodies" with "non-structural, sustainable and efficient" measures, but without losing sight of the fact that it is of «natural phenomena that can not be avoided. That is to say, we have to learn to live with them and the measures to reduce the risk should be aimed at reducing the vulnerability of the exposed goods ».

But could it have been avoided? According to experts, yes. "The solution was to fix a water retention system that slows down and the land filters the rain. The agricultural drains have been abandoned because it is more comfortable not to maintain them. In addition, traditional agriculture has been replaced by industrial, in which other factors prevail, "he says.

«This problem is not solved in a legislature. It is necessary to prepare an urban planning plan for 20 years. With or without climate change, we continue to develop floodplains and we do not manage the urbanized areas, "said the former head of Water Services.

22.7 million for roads

The economic damage is still incalculable. What we do know is that the Consell de Mallorca will allocate 22.7 million euros to rehabilitate the roads most affected by the floods. Of these, 2.7 million will be invested immediately to carry out works on the four roads that still remain cut because of the overflow of the torrents. The remaining 20 million will be divided among 17 affected roads. At the same time, the Unitary Coordinator of Professional Firefighters of Spain denounced yesterday that 30 personnel remained "waiting to leave" due to the lack of coordination. "Their services were not used, which could have worked immediately," said his spokesman, Miguel Uclés.

Although they have not yet removed the mud from the ground, the neighbors wonder if the area will be safe in the future. "It is very difficult for a built town to change. Throwing houses and changing places is not easy. Damage can be minimized with more drainage systems, improving planning, revising the General Urban Plan and making a work program to install these natural water retention systems, "he concludes.

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