January 19, 2014 6.25 p.m. The Secchia River bursts its bank. Bastiglia and Bomporto, two municipalities in the province of Modena, are plunged into a nightmare.
The water advances from the countryside to the two villages. Residents and first rescuers form a human chain to unload sandbags and build emergency barriers as quickly as possible. They manage to keep the water out for a few minutes but it keeps rising, advancing more and more violently.
It’s all pointless. The flood water begins to submerge the residential areas, relentlessly rising as people run home and try to bring whatever they can to the upper floors.
In some places the water level is more than five-feet high.
Hundreds of people are completely cut off. There is no power, nor heating or running water.
This is a cattle-breeding area therefore dozens of animals are also in danger.
The rescuers immediately begin to help and assist the residents.
Italian Red Cross, Civil Protection, Italian Army, Police, Carabinieri, National Fire Corps, several emergency teams, volunteers, helicopters and dozens of amphibious vehicles are coming from all parts of Italy to help.
The view is surreal. Helicopters fly back and forth to rescue as many people as possible. The only way to get around in the village is through outboard motor boats or jet-skis. Some of the residents are using inflatable boats or canoes. Everybody looks shocked and incredulous.
The tireless rescuers are pulling hundreds of people to safety. Heroes!
Even the people who live in these areas are heroes, strong and unyielding even after the umpteenth catastrophe that hits them. Two years ago this same area was hit by an earthquake of magnitude 5.9 (Richter scale), and yet these people gather up courage and get back on their feet, helping one another.
We’ve been wading through these flooded roads for 4 days, 10 hours a day, with water up to our waist. We talked to these people, visited their homes, told them they were not alone, that our camera was there for them since no national media was covering the news, be it on television or the papers.
In loving memory of Giuseppe Oberdan Salvioli, ordinary citizen who lost his life while trying to rescue fellow citizens with his inflatable boat.