Flooding Rescue: an event to remember the Florence 1966 flooding

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On November 4th 1966 a flash flood caused in central Italy 47 deaths, hundreds of injured and 46,000 displaced people and homeless. In Florence, the waters topped the shoulders of the riversides and covered the historic districts, reaching in some places up to 5 meters in height and forming a lake of about 40 sq km in area. In cities the dead were 17, just as many in the surrounding areas. The material damage was serious: in the end turned out damaged or destroyed 9,752 shops, 8,548 shops, 248 hotels, 600 production plants, 13,943 houses, thousands of cars. The event left more than 30,000 unemployed people. The extent of damage was worsened   by the loss of the artistic and cultural heritage.

The water and mud, loads of fuel oil collected from several citizens tanks, reached the Uffizi Gallery, the National Library, Santa Croce, the Baptistery of San Giovanni, the Archaeological museum and the Bargello, the National Library. Many masterpieces were damaged, among them the crucifix by Cimabue, the paintings of Botticelli, Paolo Uccello and Vasari, along with other 1,500 works of art and 1,300,000 volumes of the National Library. The emotional impact of the devastation flicked a general mobilization: several parts were collected funds and thousands of young people came from all over the world to make their contribution to the salvation of works of art and books, literally snatching them from the water and oily from the mud. And thanks to them was much recovered, but still, after more than forty years after the flood, are still to be restored paintings (about 140, such as the Last Supper by Giorgio Vasari), frescoes (350) and tons of vestments . Then there are the volumes of the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze (including old books, miscellaneous dated and modern, and theses, is expected to exceed 70,000 units) and the funds of the State Archives (documents that occupy about 2.5 kilometers of shelves) , the records of the Institute of the Innocents (1600) and those at the Opera del Duomo (there are 300), the testimonies of the Jewish Museum (15,000 volumes) and the artifacts of the Archeologico (packed on three shelves).

At the end of the events dedicated to the memory of the 1966 Florence flooding, the workshop “Flooding Rescue” took place in the Cappella dei Pazzi , a day of study and comparison with the academic world dedicated to deepen the issues related to floods in a context of strong climate change.The work session of the day dedicated to the rescue activities in case of damages due to floods has been opened by the presentation of Prof. Piero Cimbolli Spagnesi University “La Sapienza” of Rome that retraced the history of technical rescue in Italy from 1951 to date in the context of the floods in terms of standardization and relationship with the territory. Prof. Nicola Casagli of the University of Florence has exposed an analysis of hydrogeological risks in Italy. Climate change with its impacts on the region and the need for adaptation in the hydrogeological defense system were the topics discussed by Professor Dr. Massimiliano Pasqui CNR in his speech. Michel Cives Captain of the Paris Fire Brigades, has explained the organizational model and the ability to operational response that the Fire Brigade of Paris have implemented to tackle with the recent French floods.

In the final phase of the day of study was the Director for the Emergency Department of the Rescue Fire Service and Civil Defence, Giuseppe Romano who illustrated the models of intervention of the Fire Brigade in Italian terms of new technologies and innovative organizational models. The concluding remarks of the meeting, made from the Head of the Italian National Fire Brigade, Gioacchino Giomi, showed the interest of the National Fire Brigade with civil society and with the world of scientific research aimed at the qualification of operational response on the territory.

At the end of the meeting a brief video of the Horizon 2020 STORM project has been showed to the public to give some information about the project. The activities,  started in June 2016, will deal with the issues related to heritage safety and climatic changes and will end in 2019.

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