The Gota Fria has claimed its first lives on Thursday afternoon, those of two brothers in Caudete, north east of Elche, after they were trapped in their upturned vehicle as it was swept away by the floods. Although not named the victims were said to be aged 51 and 61.
Torrential rains swept cars away and blocked roads across the whole region. After the Rio Segura burst its banks in Orihuela, military emergency services teams arrived in the town and other affected areas.
In Pilar de la Horadada four men were trapped after it took just 20 minutes for the AP7 tunnel that runs adjacent to the N332 and the town, to completely flood. They were subsequently rescued unharmed by jetski and zodiac.
Meanwhile, Jorge Rodríguez, the mayor of Ontinyent, told state broadcaster TVE “We had 300mm of rain. We haven’t seen that for a century,”
In Almoradí, Mayor María Gómez, warned that the situation “is very serious” in the town. As a result of heavy rains, a wall of the Segura River has subsided and is overflowing. “We are in an extreme situation , they are trying to repair it right now, but we still don’t know if it will be possible or how long it will take,” he said.
In Benejúzar two women were rescued from their homes by firefighters, having been trapped as the waters continued to rise. The force of the water had demolished retaining walls of the house which was close to collapse as they were eventually saved.
The mayor of Benejúzar, Miguel López, said that all the inhabitants of Las Barracas and the hamlet of El Secano, on the banks of the Segura, had been evacuated during the night and first thing in the morning. However, these two people had returned home to collect personal items despite the risk involved.
It was necessary for the Red Cross to open nine hostels in Alicante, Torrevieja, Orihuela, Callosa de Segura, Almoradí, Villena, Alcoy and Calp, with capacity to serve about 200 people. They also established two social emergency units in Petrer and Benidorm.
The most affected municipality was Orihuela, where 34 people had to be housed in the shelter opened up by the emergency services in the Virgen de la Puerta school. Nine members of two families also had to leave their home as it began to collapse.
The accesses to the city and all traffic movement in its vicinity was stopped. However, on Friday the afternoon the ring road was opened to traffic, as well as the roads from Bigastro to Orihuela, Hurchillo, the Tajo-Segura, Desamparados and Arneva.
On Friday morning, as the extent of the damage became apparent, The Spain Prime Minister announced that he will travel to Vega Baja to visit the areas affected by the devastation.
Emergency services are continuing to rescue many people who have been trapped in vehicles and homes – However the Valencian Emergency Agency has now lowered the alert for floods from red to orange