The fragility of the Liguria environment
The autumn of 2011 has shown once again the fragility of our region when hit by the hydro-meteorological events typical of the Mediterranean and of the morphology of Liguria. Meaning, morphologically, the Apennine arc that goes from La Spezia to Nice.
One of the most beautiful landscapes in Europe, overlooking the sea, where the work of man for centuries designed the structure of the soil, the landscape of medieval villages, a landscape of "churches of Liguria as ships ready to be launched." A deeply human landscape in which the evidence of the past can be discovered by anyone who knows how to look for it. A landscape of transit and poor residence. Along the Roman and early medieval paths are found the remains of roads, bridges, abbeys and monasteries; they have witnessed the furious floodings of creeks, streams and small rivers. Collapsed and then reconstructed. Together with poor farmers ruined to the sea with their houses, with their woods, with their terraces, a millennium of terraces built to farm on. There was no television to show the color of the livid water or the desperate movements of the victims in the current. Itâ€™s a story that was never told and never will be.
During the last century of the industrial society the population and employment growth along the coastal strip has produced terribly high rates of residency in such a fragile territory. The â€śdevelopmentâ€ť climbed hills with gradients as steep as mountains to accommodate tens of thousands of people in new settlements without adequate roads and communication systems. The â€śdevelopmentâ€ť parked thousands of cars on the gravel beds of streams which became roads, with streams buried beneath them.
The processes of nature continue. Astonished citizens became victims because they did not know. They did not know that among the foundations of buildings and under the surface of roads, streams had been buried and turned into sewers. Victims. Shops lose their stock in a few minutes, people lose their cars which have cost a years work; and some may lose their lives too. They did not know. Even the authorities did not know: the police did not know, bus drivers did not know, officials did not know.
Didnâ€™t they know? And the planning documents for the basin? And the maps of the areas at risk of flooding? And the shopping mall, authorized in the Brugnato area, where the left tributaries of the Vara River had deposited a pile of logs, stones and mud?
A comparison of satellite images taken in 2006 and then in 2011, after the events, shows recently constructed buildings scattered all over the areas at risk of flooding. And how could it happen? Who is the irresponsible architect or engineer or geologist or surveyor who designed it? And the other irresponsible architect or engineer or geologist or surveyor who authorized it? Didnâ€™t they know?
Apocalypse now: three public prosecutors are presently flying over the disaster areas on board the Guardia di Finanza and Carabinieriâ€™s helicopters. Eminent experts guide the team of consultants working for the public prosecutors. Some are teachers from our university in Genoa.
I hope they knew. I hope that the proceedings do not turn into a new declaration of unpredictable circumstances again. We can live and work in the areas of our land which are flood prone. Rare events are acceptably rare. Provided we know the risks we may face when announcements are made by the Civil Protection.