Italy Extreme Weather Event

Storms, Rain and Flooding in Genoa

In mid-October in 2014, strong storms dropped on the city of Genoa an unprecedented amount of rain, causing flooding and landslides. The storm system caused 3 deaths and millions of Euros of damages. There is no current comprehensive national strategy to address the irresponsible soil consumption at the root cause of much of the hydro-geologic risk of many urban centers in Italy.

Over two days in mid-October of 2014, the city of Genoa received 395 mm (15.5 inches) of rain over a 24-hour period. A V-shaped storm—a storm generated between a cold air front and a warm one regenerating itself through convective cycles—settled on the area in the afternoon of October 9th and left on October 11th. Waters from four rivers located in the city flooded while an additional five rivers and creeks flooded the city’s immediate vicinities. Several landslides destroyed homes and interrupted rail and road service.

Three people died and a handful were saved by Firefighter Units and the Civil Protection Units. Hundreds had to leave their homes and schools were closed for many days. Several disruptions occurred throughout the city: many streets and squares were underwater, including one of the busiest train stations, and the beltway connecting the city to highway A12 was thoroughly flooded. In addition, thousands of homes lost power for hours.

During the days after the storm, damages to the entire affected region were estimated at 250 million Euros—25 million solely for the city of Genoa. Forty million Euros were set aside as resources for affected businesses and enterprises. Locally, hundreds of young people called “the angels of mud” volunteered their time and energy to clean streets, stores, and homes.

During the last few years, the Genoa area has experienced many frequent floods including in 2010, 2011, and 2014. Like many other urban and sub-urban centers in the country, Genoa is subject to a high degree of hydro-geologic risk. The wave of rapid urbanization in the post-war era led to constructions on top of creeks and spaces previously claimed by rivers. For example, the Bisagno river was completely covered with cement.

In 2013, the Italian Minister for the Environment proposed a law to reduce the soil consumption of urban areas. The law was revisited and then approved in the lower house in early 2016. Critics affirm that the law as adopted was weaker than what was originally proposed and that it does not offer clear guidelines to address urbanization in a systematic, impactful way.