by Richard Davies, Floodlist
Storm Alex brought heavy rain and strong winds across parts of Europe from 01 October 2020. South-eastern France and northern Italy experienced the worst of the storm’s consequences, where torrential rain caused flooding and landslides resulting in fatalities and widespread damage to homes and infrastructure.
In France, areas of Alpes-Maritimes Department were the hardest hit by the floods, in particular the communes of Saint-Martin-Vésubie and Breil-sur-Roya.
As of 04 October, hundreds of firefighters had carried out over 400 interventions. Military personnel and helicopters were also deployed to assist with rescue efforts. Department officials said over 2,000 homes suffered damage.
Several people were reported missing at the time and authorities have had difficulty verifying exact numbers. In November 2020, weeks after the event, media in France reported 7 fatalities as a result of the storm in Alpes-Maritimes Department, with 9 people still thought to be missing.
Météo France reported 500.2mm of rain in 24 hours to 03 October at Saint-Martin-Vésubie, which is the equivalent of more than three months of rain and a record daily amount.
Italy’s Fire Department – Vigili del Fuoco –carried out over 2,500 interventions in Piedmont, Liguria and Lombardy regions in the north of the country.
Emergency teams used helicopters to rescue dozens of people from the flooding. Dozens of people were eventually rescued after being trapped in vehicles along the Col de Tende mountain pass in the Alps, close to the border with France.
Fatalities were reported in the Aosta Valley Region, where a firefighter died during a rescue operation. Another fatality was reported after a man was swept away by flood waters in Vercelli province in Piedmont on 02 October. A third fatality was reported after a body was found in Col de Tende area in the Province of Cuneo, also Piedmont Region.
ARPA Piemonte said rainfall totals from 01 to 04 October 2020 were more than 50% of the average annual precipitation for some stations.
Sambughetto in the Province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola recorded 630 mm of rain in 24 hours to 03 October 2020. Limone Piemonte in the Province of Cuneo recorded 580 mm of rain during the same period.
Several rivers in the region exceeded danger levels, including the Sesia at Borgosesia and Palestro, the Po at Valenza, the Tanaro at Garessio and Farigliano, and the Toce at Candoglia.