IT could have been a scene from the Old Testament.
Millions of litres of rain bombed down the hillsides in biblical proportions in what believers would have described as the wrath of God.
Streets were turned into violent rapids, hurtling cars towards the sea and carrying people, young and old, to their deaths.
But this wasn’t God, this was mother nature – a brutal force which shows no mercy when it rears its destructive head.
A nine-year-old boy with his whole life ahead of him, killed in a matter of seconds before his lifeless body was found strewn across the ground in the aftermath.
Another lad – even younger – is still missing.
An elderly man, who was too immobile to escape the rushing water as it filled his basement, drowned alone in his home.
A British couple – who hours earlier had most likely been dining out on their holiday – were swept away before spending their dying moments together trapped in a taxi as it filled with water.
A Dutchman died in a similar predicament, while even the former mayor of Arta, Rafel Gili, 71, was swept to his death.
At least six other people lost their lives in what was has been described as the worst floods to hit the island in more than 100 years.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was quickly on the scene, pulling on wellies, to declare the area as a disaster zone as he vowed to offer all financial support necessary to rebuild the lives of those affected.
While welcomed, it’s probably meaningless to the mother who lost her son, or the family who lost their grandfather.
The chaotic night left a string of tragedies in its wake, like the man who drowned while trying to rescue his pets, knowing he’d rather die than live without them.
A British mother and son described how they saw a car swept past them with people trapped and clearly panicking inside. They are later believed to have died.
The tragic nature of the disaster is matched only by its method of surprise.
A yellow warning was issued by Spain’s official weather agency, AEMET, at 12pm before being upgraded to orange at 8.30pm.
As if playing catch up with nature, a red warning wasn’t issued until 10.20pm.
“We weren’t expecting it,” said one local, “The weather alert went from yellow to orange in a short time. The brook was in good condition but too much water has fallen in too short a time.”
Indeed long before then, hundreds fled their homes while others were escaping to their roofs and praying for a break in the deluge.
The statistics are simply terrifying. Some 175 litres fell by 6pm, some 220 litres by midnight, and finally over 250 litres – a record according to AEMET, which claimed this was a ‘once in a 1,000 year event’.
The heavy rainfall flooded the Ses Planes brook, which is typically dry.
Sant Llorenc and surrounding villages were left in the dark after losing power and phone signal, with many not knowing if they’d make it through til daybreak.
Hundreds of troops, Guardia Civil and emergency services were scrambled, including aircraft.
But other tales of survival and the human spirit have shone through the darkness.
Like the man whose car was swept away in the rapids, but managed to survive after escaping through a passenger window and swimming an incredible 500 metres to safety.
In scenes reminiscent of tragedies like Hurricane Katrina, dishevelled victims headed to refuge centres, which were set up almost immediately by well organised officials and locals.
The island’s most famous export Rafael Nadal offered up his huge tennis academy in nearby Manacor, saying he was ‘deeply affected’ by the tragedy which left parts of his hometown in ruins.
Many roads are still closed as officials asses the damages, especially in the Manacor area and the East coast, but the overwhelming amount of solidarity offered by citizens with food, blankets and shelter was described as ‘incredible’.
But as day broke yesterday on the disaster and three days of official mourning were declared, the aftermath proved there is a lot of work to do.
The beach of S’Illot has been completely washed away while cars have been left piled on top of each other like Jenga.
Homes and buildings have been completely destroyed, along with bridges and roads.
But there is also a lot of healing to do mentally.
Dozens of people, like the 200 forced to flee their homes, will be left traumatised and will need medical help to process and recover.
If anything can come out of this, let it be a resurgence in the fight to meet our climate change goals.
It is not a coincidence that these ‘freak’ floods are becoming more frequent.
It’s affecting the whole of Spain, with floods in Benidorm this week also claiming lives, while parts of Marbella were left dangerously flooded too this week.
Two weeks ago there were sudden terrifying downpours in Ronda and near Valencia.
And let’s not forget the biblical floods on the Costa del Sol two years ago which left several dead and tens of millions of euros in damages.
While the cost of these floods has been deadly, learning nothing from them would be far worse.
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