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Tenerife storms: the after-math 

Leaders look at island’s defences.

It was a case of “here we go again” when Tenerife experienced another episode of storm dam age but this time, answers and action are being sought.

In many parts of the island, mopping-up operations are still continuing as a result of the torrential 12-hour downpoour on October 19th when sadly, there was one death when a woman was swept away by the floods.

The cost of damage is put at millions of euros and grant aid is being sought both from the Spanish and Canary Governments. The situation was so bad that the King of Spain even phoned the Mayor of Santa Cruz to pledge his support and to ask about the welfare of local people and their property.

Tenerife Cabildo has pledged to instigate whatever projects it can to try and ensure any further storms do not cause the same widespred damage, though the terrain of the island probably means it cannot be totally eliminated.

What is angering the Cabildo, however, is the revelation that it sent a detailed storm report to the Canary Government two years ago and it has never received a reply.

“We do not know why it has been delayed so long and I have repeatedly stressed the need to approve the plan as soon as possible,” said councillor for water, Jesús Morales.

As a result, he added, the Cabildo’s hands were tied to implement major actions to protect the most vulnerable parts of the island before a downpour.

Many businesses, shops, restaurants and home owners suffered substantial losses as a result of flooding and are very fearful of it happening all over again in due course.

They will receive some help at least from the Canary Government which will provide emergency aid to offset the loss or damage to basic goods if homes were the family’s first residence.

In Santa Cruz alone, damage is estimated at around 15 million euros, with 100,000 euros worth of damage caused just to sports facilities. A report has been drawn up to instigate work on roads, ravines, infrastructures etc. The list includes at least 800 actions, including in parks and gardens, the electrical installations of public buildings and in schools.

The Mayor, José Manuel Bermúdez says it will be another two weeks or so before everything gets back to normal.

Opposition councillors in Santa Cruz have also questionned the availability of police on the day of the floods and the city’s early warning system.

Tenerife Cabildo is to spend 11 million euros on different works in order to prevent more flooding and improve the safety for citizens. These include improving pipes in ravines and other pipe and stormwater projects. Once returned, their Storm Action Plan will include other comprehensive measures.

At a press conference, president Carlos Alonso also lamented what other people have also been commenting on, namely the weather forecast prior to October 19th. He said had there been more accurate prior notice, more could have been done to mitigate damage. The agency did warn of rain but it was twice the quantity envisaged.

“There is a lot to improve on AEMET forecasts,” he said.

The Cabildo will be looking at problem hot-spots and water channels, as well as barrancos. The scenes of October 19th once again included huge torrents of water running down the mountains and along roads and streets and there are still huge potholes visible in various parts of the island.

Following this latest storm episode, it is also planned to install the island’s first weather radar in the area of Teno (the second one in the Canaries) to improve predictions.