Mayors lead flood aid protests as authorities announce help

A protest by locals blocks the A-367 road to Ronda on Tuesday.
A protest by locals blocks the A-367 road to Ronda on Tuesday. / Fernando Torres
  • Initial central government estimates are that 128 million euros will be needed as it prepares to declare an "emergency zone"

Local mayors from inland Malaga province have been leading sit-ins and road blockages this week in protest at what they say is the slow and inadequate response by authorities with aid for the heavy flood damage in the area.

The municipalities of Teba, Campillos and Ardales were especially affected by the record-breaking rainfall last month, with many homes damaged and a lot of infrastructure swept away.

There was widespread disappointment last Friday that the national government, by coincidence holding a cabinet meeting away from Madrid in nearby Seville, did not declare an official emergency zone to release faster funds.

However on Tuesday the Junta de Andalucía regional government announced emergency funding worth 37 million euros would be available from its funds for districts affected across parts of Malaga, Seville and Cordoba provinces. The regional president, Susana Díaz, also said that she expected the national government to announce an emergency zone this Friday, 2 November.

Despite the announcement by the Junta, the mayors said they would continue protesting. Mayors of Teba and Campillos, Cristóbal Corral and Paco Guerrero, both of the Izquierda Unida party, said it was "insufficient" and that they would continue protesting, including a rally in Madrid on Friday.

"We haven't been through a flood," said the mayor of Campillos, "We've been through a tragedy."

"Political motives"

Susana Díaz urged the mayors this week to stop "pouring oil on the fire" and the national government representative in Andalucía, Alfonso Rodriguez Gómez de Celisro, stressed that help for private individuals affected had been available since the first day and criticised the mayors for "taking advantage of the catastrophe" to gain votes.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, the national government's representative for Malaga province, María Gámez, said she had received requests for 128 million euros in aid.

Damaged infrastructure

Of the 37.7 million euros aid announced by the regional government for 86 Andalusian municipalities for rain damage, 40 are in Malaga province. The majority will be spent on repairs to infrastructure, including roads, water courses, schools and health centres, while around ten per cent will go to town halls. Funds will come from a mixture of extra, authorised spending plus disaster contingency finds.

Meanwhile discussions have begun for four kilometres of unfinished AVE high-speed rail line to be brought into service as a quick way to replace the damaged normal gauge Seville-Malaga line, which along with other non-high-speed lines in the north of the province, has been out of action since the floods.