A BRITISH family holidaying with their two toddlers in Alicante have been rescued by the Spanish army following flash floods that left them trapped indoors for over 12 hours.
Paul and Angie Spencer had been staying in Benferri, near Orihuela, with their four children aged 12 months, 2, 12 and 14, when the Brazel del Lugar river suddenly burst its banks on Friday morning.
Floodwaters smashed the downstairs windows of their holiday home in the Benfis Park urbanisation before both water and electricity supplies were severed to the Doncaster family.
“It was terrifying. Within half an hour our basement was completely flooded,” Paul Spencer, 35, told the Olive Press.
“We knew we were in trouble when the waters rose higher the kerbs.
“We had fun watching the thunder and lightning on Thursday night, but never in a million years did we think we think our holiday villa would be nearly swept away the next day.”
Paul sent a video at 9.30am to family and friends in the UK showing the raging storm waters filling their Volkswagen Caravelle hire car and lapping at the staircase to the 1st floor of the three-storey detached building.
After the electricity supply was cut, nothing was heard until the military arrived at 5pm – a further 8 hours into their ordeal – to evacuate the family to Benferri’s community centre.
But the nightmare for the Spencer’s family of six and two family friends did not end there.
“Cars were streaming past, along with furniture, suitcases and even two people who tried to cross the road,” Paul said.
“They just got swept away. Their screams were awful, we don’t know what happened to them.”
When the group of eight finally arrived at the Auditori Municipal in Benferri, they found only four beds set up by emergency services.
“We started to panic, and the last thing we wanted to spend a night here,” added Paul.
“The villa was gone, there were no hotels, and eight of us sharing mattresses on a cold floor just wasn’t going to happen.”
The Spencer family and their two friends were able to get last-minute flights out from Alicante-Elche airport on Friday night – but the situation did not end there for those still in Spain.
The fifth of six casualties of the Costa Blanca storms was a 58-year-old man found by helicopter in Benferri – where the Spencer’s were staying – who was swept away after trying crossing the road during intense storm waters.
A further two died on Friday in Andalucia province’s Almeria and Granada, while two siblings were killed when floodwaters swept their car away in Albacete on Thursday.
It comes as a record-breaking 425.4 l/m² of rain fell on the Alicante city of Orihuela in between Wednesday and Friday – almost twice the annual average rainfall of 260 l/m², according to Spain’s Met Office AEMET.
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The dam at Santomera, in Murcia, reached 100% capacity and was forced to release water a 15 m3/s until Saturday morning.
The added water caused the Segura river – which flows through Orihuela – to burst its banks in more than four municipalities, while almost 4,000 people were evacuated across the southern region of Alicante province.
A total of 532 soldiers and 82 vehicles were dispatched to aid flood victims, many of whom were trapped in tunnels while still in their cars.