A landslide has its life. Once you start moving, you can keep doing it for years. It can change the morphology of entire slopes, open fractures, reactivate old movements that have been dormant for decades, or trigger new ones never detected by the mapping office. In a few minutes it can crumble roads, houses, it can â€œpromiseâ€ to go down to the valley and remain there, threatening like a pointed gun. It can annihilate a community without even touching it, simply by severing vital connections around it, or opening up fronts of serious risk downstream and upstream.
Here you are. This all really happened along the Apennine mountain range which was hit with an unprecedented amount of rain early last week. All together, and in a very large area. On the Bolognese hills, in the hilly and mountainous areas of the provinces of Modena, Reggio Emilia, Rimini, Forlì-Cesena and Ravenna: the number of landslides is impressive. Assuming that it is possible to classify the interventions to the limit of what is possible, that of landslides is today a much more complicated situation than the one faced by rescuers downstream with fields and towns still invaded by water after the banks broke. and the rise of rivers and canals.
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The number, we said. Until yesterday afternoon, Civil Protection has relieved – that is, it has verified them and is monitoring them with its technicians and drones – 376 “very significant”, as defined by Irene Priolo, vice president of the Emilia-Romagna Region, which has its own Civil Protection delegation. A figure “distributed” in 56 Municipalities. It is striking that 170 of these landslides affect 18 Municipalities in the province of Forlì-Cesena, and furthermore that there are up to 90 that threaten only two Municipalities in the Ravenna area: Casola Valsenio and Brisighella. And it was always the Region that, three days ago, believed that at least a thousand were active. The 376 are, essentially, the ones that have created situations of “impact” with the inhabited nuclei, with the roads, with the agricultural warehouses… In short, with humans. The rest are reports in the process of verification of seriousness, extension and, indeed, impact on the population.
The truth is that -just as happens downstream due to overflow of water- even upriver (in this case due to landslides) we are still in full emergency almost ten days after the heavy rains. “Our priority right now is definitely to keep people safe, to be very careful with landslides that may involve them,” confirms Rita Nicolini, director of the Emilia-Romagna Agency for Territorial Security and Civil Protection. “The front of the Municipalities affected by landslides is very long and we have territories with huge landslides and many evacuees”, she says, citing for example Monzuno, but also Modigliana, Casola Valsenio, Brisighella, Dovadola…
Professor Berti talks about “rain threshold models” that help predict “whether a meteorological event can be critical or not” from the point of view of landslides. This time the landslides (“those typical of these areas”) were expected, “but of course we did not expect such a high number… In some areas the morphology of the slopes has changed. We had never seen anything like this and there is no historical news of this type.” “There are entire slopes that have collapsed, so the road structure will have to be redesigned,” assesses Dr. Nicolini. She does not say so, but there are houses and entire areas that, seen from the other side (with landslides looming upstream and downstream) seem lost forever.
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