Residents take their damaged belongings out onto the street in Cartaya. / EFE

Video | Huelva mops up after devastating heavy rains turn roads into rivers

The 112 Andalucía emergency control centre was swamped with calls and had to reinforce its staff to respond to the situation, recording more than 600 incidents in the few first hours

M. ROSA FONT

A huge clearing up operation has swung into action this Friday morning (24 September) in the Andalusian province of Huelva, after the area was hit by heavy rains and flooding on Thursday.

A weather front left behind devastating scenes of destruction in dozens of towns , especially on the western coast, with Ayamonte, Isla Cristina, Lepe and Cartaya being the most affected.

At dawn on Thursday Spain’s State Meteorological Agency (Aemet) raised the alert for the approaching storm to the highest level (red). And the Junta de Andlaucía’s delegate in Huelva activated Level 1 of the Emergency Plan for Flood Risks (PERI) at the provincial level.

The intense rains, accompanied by hail and lightning, turned the streets into rivers, dragging vehicles with them in Lepe and Isla Cristina, leaving them piled high on street corners.

Houses and garages were flooded, trees, walls of houses and schools fell and in the Isla Canela area.

In Lepe, the wall of the football field collapsed adjacent to the Alonso Barba school.

Guardia Civil officers, firefighters from the provincial brigade, local police officers from the affected municipalities and Civil Protection volunteers were mobilised.

The 112 Andalucía emergency control centre was swamped with calls and had to reinforce its staff to respond to the situation, recording more than 600 incidents in the few first hours.

The provincial fire brigade later said they had responded to 800 incidents.

By the afternoon, the residents’ started counting the cost of the damage as the cleaning up operation began assisted by 74 volunteers from Civil Protection group on the coast and Valverde del Camino.

The municipalities gathered in an emergency meeting in Lepe to evaluate the, not yet quantified, damage from the storm but expected to run into millions of euros.