Devastating Floods in Mallorca

Post updated Thursday, October 11th

Our beloved adopted island of Mallorca is in mourning. Twelve people are now known to have died as a result of flooding in the east and northeast area of Mallorca, known as the Llevant. A five-year-old boy (whose mother died) is still missing. Amongst those who lost their lives – in what must have been terrifying circumstances – were two British tourists, who died in a taxi. Today they were named as Delia and Anthony Green, aged in their 70s, who were on their way to their hotel in Cala Bona.

October usually brings a few storms – often heavy – but Tuesday’s was something else. We had torrential rain, thunder, and scary sheet-and-fork lightning for several hours. Remembering a previous storm that disabled our solar electricity system inverter at great expense, The Boss switched off all related equipment and we sat by candlelight for a while, reading from our Kindles, and listening to the rain – thankful to be indoors.

A Disaster in the Making

At about six o’clock on Tuesday, October 9th, the banks of the Ses Planes torrente in the nearby town of Sant Llorenç (population just over 8,000) burst under the weight of water: 257 litres of rain per square metre fell on the town. Water and mud surged through Sant Llorenç, inundating some properties to the depth of an average adult’s shoulder height and sweeping away vehicles in the streets as though they were bath toys. The town also lost electricity and phone connections during the storm.

We didn’t realise what was going on outside our valley until we switched our power back on and were able to access the Internet again. The photos and video footage we saw from Sant Llorenç were shocking and, frankly, unbelievable. The storm has been described in the local and international media as ‘biblical’ – such is the devastation.

Many people sought shelter on the rooftops of their homes or in trees; once rescued, they were taken to shelter in the Miguel Angel Nadal sports centre in Manacor. Tennis star Rafa Nadal also provided accommodation at his famous Tennis Academy. It will be some time before many of the locals can return to their homes.

Other Mallorcan Towns Also Affected

Sant Llorenç was by far the worst-affected part of the region, but Artà, Son Carrió, and the east-coast resort of S’Illot also suffered flooding and three of the deaths were in Artà and S’Illot. Cars were swept into the sea in Colonia de Sant Pere (one of our favourite coastal places in Mallorca).

Today, several major roads remain closed. Just outside Artà – on the highway towards Ca’n Picafort – part of the road has been washed away, leaving an enormous hole that makes the route impassable. The scale of this disaster is hard to take in; it’s the worst in Mallorca for 29 years and the third major flood in the Llevant area in the past 100 years.

The town and its environs are littered with wrecked cars and other debris – piled up in places. Although the floodwater has receded, it has left behind a thick layer of mud.

On Wednesday morning, 80 officers and seven vehicles from Spain’s Military Emergencies Unit (UME, Unidad Militar de Emergencias) arrived on the island to join local emergency services and the Civil Protection Unit to help search for missing people and collaborate with what will be a massive and complicated clear-up operation.

By yesterday lunchtime the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, had flown to Mallorca and was in Sant Llorenç to see the devastation for himself.

A British crew from ITV arrived yesterday to film in Sant Llorenç, so UK readers of this blog may see the latest horrendous footage for themselves. Because Mallorca is a popular holiday destination with Brits, this story has been well covered in the UK media and we had calls, messages, and emails throughout the day from friends and family in the UK checking that we are OK. I have also done UK radio phone interviews about the flooding on LBC, BBC WM, and BBC Berkshire, and one on a Tenerife radio station.

Tomorrow, Friday – the start of the holiday known as Puente de Pilar – King Felipe VI and Doña Letizia are visiting the town of Sant Llorenç to meet those affected.

If you believe in God, please say a prayer for all those whose lives have been affected by this terrible flooding. Mallorca is in mourning – and will never forget October 9th, 2018.


©JanEdwards 2018

16 thoughts on “Devastating Floods in Mallorca

  1. Thank you Jan….as someone who has managed to live through a disaster, I know what the people must be going through. Our thoughts are with you all.

  2. Just awful and thoughts to all. Living in the campo and near to a rambla on mainland Spain we can imagine the devastation but also know communities will pull together. Take care and prayers.

    • Thank you, Carole. Spain still has that sense of community that brings people together to help. Six hundred people – including tennis star Rafa Nadal – were in Sant Llorenc yesterday to start the clear-up operation. Much-needed supplies for those forced out of flooded homes have come from all over the island too.

  3. Living not too far south of you, near Felanitx, I experienced yesterdays big skies but not a lot of rain. We had a lot more on Monday.

    I write to remind people its worth checking how you stand in the case of a 100 year event.

    That’s what these are and people need to look at the geography around their dwelling and visualise torrents coming down.

    Where would the water go. For most people the answer will be OK , not through our property, but for those with dry torrent beds, or just dips in the land its worth thinking what can I do to alleviate potential problems.

    I drove up to Canyamel yesterday morning, passing San Llorenc on the bypass both ways, looking down on the town and thinking how the concrete plant looked bare since the end of filming Love Island.

    How quickly things can change – today our thoughts must be with a town that is going to take a very long time and need a lot of help to recover.

    John Little

    • Wise words, John. When I lived in Oxfordshire, our village was once badly flooded; we were safe because my cottage was in an elevated position. Seeing the flooded houses lower down was something we took into account when looking for a house here. I see that the beach at Canyamel has a real mess. As you say, it will take a very long time to clear up the devastation from this storm. There are lessons to learn…

  4. My thoughts and prayers go to everyone affected by the devestating floods that have occurred. Mallorca is soon to become our permanent home and am shocked and saddened by the images seen on news coverage. Thinking of you all including the emergency services who have responded to this awful event in Mallorca.

    • Thank you, Tracy. This must have been particularly shocking in view of the fact that you’re moving here soon. Be assured this was a very rare event – only three major floods in Mallorca in the past 100 years. All the best with the move and I hope you’ll have a very happy life in Mallorca.

  5. Ohhh… Me so relieved and happy you are well and safe! I was worried, news are terribile, such a devastating disaster! Hope things will go better. I will Save all’ my orayers for you!

  6. So glad you ate both ok -our friends in Cas Concos showed us pictures this morning-its so terrible., so sad. We were only driving through there 3 weeks ago-from what i know of the Mallorca village life-this will be absolutely devastating

    • Thank you Sarah. Yes, it’s tragic and becomes even more so now as individual stories come out. The sun is shining today and I hope that will help the clear-up operation a little – but, as you say, the close-knit community of this Mallorcan village is devastated.

  7. Thank you for writing this piece. What an awful event! Our hearts are always in Mallorca (in Cala Mesquida and Cala Ratjada, to be specific), but even more so now. Our thoughts are with all those affected by the devastation and loss.

    • Thank you, Cindy. It was awful, particularly the loss of lives. But the response from the island, in terms of help, was phenomenal. Community spirit is still alive and well on beautiful Mallorca.

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