Italy passes €2 billion aid package for those affected by deadly floods

While it might be too early to put a figure on the financial impact of the recent floods that have swept through central Italy - the damage is clear to see.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s government passed a €2 billion aid package on Tuesday to help businesses and families affected by this latest extreme weather event.

The agriculture sector has been hit hardest. Around 10 million plants in Italy’s so-called 'fruit valley' have been damaged with vegetable production being heavily affected.

“If financial support is not being sent immediately, businesses won’t be able to reopen," explained Danilo Verlicchi, the Director of Confagricoltura Ravenna.

Michele Nucci/LaPresse
Volunteers clear mud from a street in Faenza, Italy, Monday, May 22, 2023. - Michele Nucci/LaPresse

"We don’t want to repeat what happened in other parts of Italy in the past where after one year businesses are still waiting for funds to come in.”

Emilia Romagna is one of Italy’s richest regions and the impact of the floods has raised questions about why funding allocated to counter hydrological instability has never been used.

In hard-hit towns, life is slowly getting back to normal.

Although the heavy rain has stopped in recent days, the water level is still high. A town of 2000 inhabitants near the northern city of Ravenna was completely evacuated.

Firefighters carry local residents in and out of town on a daily basis. For some, this is the first time they were able to return to their homes to retrieve what they left behind.

“It’s the first time I have been able to enter my house since last Thursday," said one resident. "I wanted to take with me what I could. we have to stay positive. We have been able to save our lives! That’s the most important thing.”

Many here believe the worst has passed although they remain concerned about the future.

“I lost everything. I have lived here for 20 years and I still have to finish paying the mortgage," explained one resident. "Who’s going to pay for it? I don’t know.”

Both local residents and business owners told us they are happy with the government’s response to the emergency. All they want is support without any delay.