After a summer in which thousands of hectares were devastated by wildfires, storms have brought flash flooding to the southern part of Catalonia on the first day of September, ripping through parts of several municipalities in the Ebre region, including Sant Carles de la Ràpita and Alcanar. Water levels rose in a matter of minutes and powerful currents swept through the streets, destroying street furniture, carrying away vehicles and even entering houses.
Civil Protection this morning activated the alert phase of the INUNCAT flood emergency plan due to the intensity of the rain in the Montsià and Baix Ebre counties, where many flooding incidents have been registered. They asked residents of these areas to stay home early this afternoon, while the intense downpours continued.
Houses flooded, cars swept away
Due to the heavy rain, more than 10,000 people were initially left without electricity, although it was restored for about half of these shortly afterwards. Some complained on social media that teleworking had become impossible, having lost power and internet connections, as well as expressing surprise at how flood-prone some towns were.
A resident of Sant Carles de la Ràpita, in Montsià, Marga Mateu, explained that a wave of water entered her house through the main front door, flowing powerfully through the dwelling and out into a courtyard. She shared the above video of her street, Carrer Bisbe Aznar, converted into a raging torrent which even knocked down vehicles such as motorcycles.
Montsià and Baix Ebre counties, worst hit
Catalonia's Meteocat weather office published a warning on flood danger, after the Alcanar station, also in Montsià county, registered 77 millimetres of rainfall in thirty minutes. Today, in the period till 1pm, that weather station registered 167.8 millimetres of rain in total, falling at an intensity of four millimetres per minute, according to provisional data.
Catalan fire fighters reported that they had received hundreds of reports of flooding in Montsià up till 2pm, including 239 in the municipality of Alcanar and 183 in Sant Carles de la Ràpita.
Flooded streets, power off
In the neighbourhood of Les Cases d'Alcanar, videos show cars being swept water by the water.
A Spar supermarket was affected by the floods, with the floodwater surging despite the roller doors being closed.
Meanwhile, in the Alfacs d'Alcanar camping ground, people had to be rescued and evacuated by maritime rescue helicopter.
Motorways and roads closed by the floods
The intensity of the storm caused the closure of the N-340 highway between between Amposta and Alcanar, the AP-7 motorway at Ulldecona in the direction of Tarragona and the TP-3318 road as well in Ulldecona. The AP-7 was able to reopen around 2:15pm.
Rail traffic was also interrupted on the Ulldecona-L’Aldea-Tortosa route. This affected trains on the R16 line as well as long distance trains travelling on the Mediterranean Corridor between southern Catalonia and the Valencian Country.