Flood recovery progress update ; Mixed reaction in Jersey ; Funchal at night on video

Today’s photo – Many thanks to Tom … Family Blandy quinta high above Funchal surrounded by a very beautiful garden

madeira news blog 1002 tom Family Blandy quinta high above Funchal surrounded by a very beautiful garden

February blog visitors : I normally do a quick run down after the end of each month of the blog visitors, and February is normally a low viewing month, partly due to only having 28 days. But something happened a week or so ago that made it the highest month ever for visitor numbers, and on Sunday 21st it peaked at nearly 5,000 visits. Then for 7 consecutive days the number decreased, as the flood and tragedy stories came off the ‘front pages’ and the initial interest wore off, and also as the search engines gave priority to large media organisations on the search engine listings. For the month as a whole there were over 32 thousand visits from 124 countries.

My apologies for the delay in posting some items, it was a really busy ‘full up’ type of week, but I should catch up by Wednesday.

Many thanks to Elaine (East) for these web snippets :

Update from the Jersey press. Comments to this post are interesting.  HERE Indeed they are Becky, some quite hostile. For sure if there was a disaster in Jersey, it would be reported. I guess there would be some support from Madeira, but whether it would be the spending sort I don’t know, especially after what happened over East Timor. Der

On a happier note, from an American finance site. Just Launched The Magic of Madeira Lifestyle & property magazine.  …..According to the Portuguese National Tourist Office and the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce in the UK, health and wellbeing tourism is on the rise across Europe and is predicted to increase by 5-10% by 2015. This is significant as at a major conference on the topic held at the beginning of November, Madeira has been highlighted for its potential in this increasing market … MORE 

Now for something different. Politics of the Crypt. Facing the Future with the Habsburg Dead …..What should be done, for example, with the monstrous copper coffin standing around uselessly at Vienna’s Central Cemetery? It was originally meant for Emperor Charles I, but he was buried in Madeira, where he was forced into exile. Since his beatification in 2004, the emperor’s resting place on the island has drawn more tourists than ever before. The autonomous Portuguese archipelago declines to transfer the tomb to the Imperial Crypt in Vienna … MORE

Many thanks to Becky for these videos :

A guided view around the city of Funchal at night, by a man with a very nice voice (para mim, a good enough reason to learn Portuguese right there!) and good to hear the familiar sound of some dogs barking.

Lovely compilation of footage and stills from Santa Cruz.

Government communication policy on the floods after the 28th February :

Piece adapted by Paul from this page to improve the translation: SOURCE … Many thanks Paul.

On the 28th February, after 8 days of reports the last official Report was published. The aim of the Reports was to inform everyone in Madeira and the National and International press.

From the 28th February, each Regional Secretary will report, individually on the progress of their department’s responsibilities after the floods

SOLIDARITY: Madeira has received from all over the world pledges of solidarity. The Regional Government is deeply grateful for them.

PROGRESS: the main concern and priority of the regional authorities is to support Madeira’s people and the replacement of all land communications safely, especially those to the most remote locations. The cleaning and restoration works have been taking place at an accelerated pace, with two of the three rivers that overflowed in Funchal already back running down their normal routes.

From the beginning, the Regional Civil Protection Services, local authorities, Fire Departments, Health Services, Social Services coordinated their tasks in order to get closer to the population and help meet their needs.

Funchal’s main Hospital received 120 wounded people. 70 were hospitalized. Now there are only 16 still receiving treatment.

Madeirans that were reallocated temporarily are being supported by the Regional Government and they will return to their homes when it is possible, or the Government will build new houses for them.

RETURNING TO NORMAL:

On the 1st of March, most accesses to Funchal were back open.

Schools will be open and operating normally.

TOURISM:

The hotel industry of Madeira was not affected by the floods and maintains all operating conditions safely. Hotel establishments are operational with all their facilities. Both Madeira’s International Airport and The Harbour of Funchal have been operational since the floods too.

Sorry to repeat this from yesterday’s blog comments, but I am hoping some international media company will pick up on this if it is actually posted on the blog itself.

I guess most blog readers now know the story about the family of 8 living in Pomar da Rocha, that was almost totally wiped out in a landslide here on 20th February.

The one survivor is a young man (some conflicting reports about his exact age, but around 19), who lost the other 7 members of his family, and is currently still in hospital, having had some digits amputated (again some conflicting reports on how many). He is due out of hospital this week, to face a stark reality of making a new start with no family, no home, and no possessions, and whether he will be able to continue to work as a result of his injuries I don’t know (he was juggling education whilst working at the petrol station by the via rápida in Ribeira Brava).

Feliz Abreu’s school in Ribeira Brava is trying to raise some money to get him started, and help him find a new home, and to buy him clothes, as he has absolutely nothing. There is another fund raising effort in Ribeira Brava where friends and locals are also putting what they can spare towards a fund to help Feliz.

I am posting this as a blog contributor, not in any other capacity, so this has nothing to do with the blog itself. But if anyone is able to help / contribute then the PayPal button on the right of this page can be used, and if you can mark in the comments box FELIZ, then I will ensure any money is passed on. I can also provide my bank account details [€ / £]. If PayPal is not an option for anyone. You can email me if you need that information. I will send acknowledgement of any donation, by email, on request.

I can’t even begin to imagine how Feliz will cope once back in reality. I can’t even imagine how someone can possibly ever return to a normal life after what he has been through. At least if he has a home and some money and personal possessions he will have a chance to try. Thanks for reading this.

Many thanks to Elaine once again for yesterday’s top news stories :

DIÁRIO 01/03/2010

FRONT PAGE NEWS

Eight shops and restaurants of the marina will be demolished. The refurbishment of the marina will start immediately. It was due to start in 2011 but the decision by the Harbour Administrators (APRAM) has been brought forward. The safety of restaurants and shops and their users determined the urgency of the intervention. The water that infiltrated the original wall of the Avenida do Mar created sheets that ran through the walls and ceilings of these buildings. Postponed several times, the redevelopment of the marina should be in conjunction with the redevelopment of the Avenida do Mar and the remodelling of the dry area of the Marina of Funchal, including the transfer of fuel tanks. The total cost to APRAM will be 5 million Euros. About 100 employees of these enterprises will be made redundant. The loss of revenue when access to the marina is banned is estimated at 15,000 – 20,000 Euros per day. None of the businesses have insurance for operating losses. The Beer House has had enormous losses in the kitchen, office and stocks and looses a few thousand Euros each day it cannot open.

Fall in revenue can reach 20 million Euros. The devastating effects of the disaster. In addition to losses arising from damage to property, equipment and goods, which meant that more than 900 businesses had to close, the effects of loss of revenue will cause the unemployment of hundreds of Madeirans. Traders point out that lack of sales / revenue is responsible for 20% of the cost of the damage caused by the storm. If the business associations say that private businesses take a loss of 100 million Euros, commerce will loose 20 million Euros of revenue in the coming months. Some shops are about to reopen but others in different parts of the island will be affected for several months, with particular emphasis on the municipalities of Ribeira Brava and São Vicente, which might be taken off major tour itineraries. There are dozens of companies that will not reopen in the short term as they are not insured for the losses. The two supermarkets of Pingo Doce loose 60,000 – 70,000 Euros per day. The destruction to Pingo Doce shops in Anadia and Dolce Vita costs 20 million Euros with 4 million Euros lost in expected sales revenue. Two hundred people are employed in these two stores. The Government of the Republic has a 50 million Euros line of support with grants of 50% for small firms to replace their property and equipment, with a million Euros to help the unemployed.

MADEIRA

Group of London solidarity. The folklore group of the Portuguese Cultural and Sports Centre in London left yesterday for Oman in the Middle East to entertain a group of businessmen. The organization Dansakat will hold a gala dinner today for directors of a company and hope to have traditional music from all of the countries where the directors are based, including Portugal. The chairman of the Sports Centre told the newspaper reporter that they are trying to raise funds in Oman for Madeira, to help the victims of the tragedy. On 7th March, there will be a solidarity dinner to raise funds in London, at a cost of 15 pounds per person. The space for the dinner in Brixton is given free by Lambeth Council and food and drink will be donated by several Portuguese companies. The area can accommodate 400 – 600 so the organizers hope to attract hundreds of Portuguese immigrants.

Initial estimates. The local authorities are beginning to estimate the cost of Saturday’s storm. The Regional Government estimate 1.4 billion Euros. In Funchal, Miguel Albuquerque said the storm caused damage of more than 198 million Euros. Ribeira Brava, the mayor talks of about 90 million Euros of damage to roads and bridges, water supply, sanitation and housing. In Santana, the mayor estimates a loss of 3.5 million Euros and in Machico, 2.5 million Euros of damage. 25 million Euros in Santa Cruz but only 70,000 Euros in Porto Moniz. In Calheta, 4 million Euros of damage to municipal infrastructure alone and 3 million Euros worth in Ponta do Sol.

POLITICS

Jardim will rethink leaving the Regional Government in 2011. The disaster that befell the region might make Alberto Jardim reconsider his intention to relinquish power in 2011, but he would prefer a middle way. If things were running normally, he would leave in 2011 but what has befallen Madeira is very complicated. He admits a new solution: leave the government but continue to be politically active.

Left Bloc leader praises the prompt response of the Regional Government. The national leader of the Left Bloc visited Madeira, where in an unprecedented manner, he made in public his praise for the prompt response of the Regional Government to the effects of the storm of 20th February. He said this disaster should serve as a lesson to impose strict rules on urban planning to maintain the security of the inhabitants. In the process, the views of urban planners, environmentalists and scientific authorities who know the difficulties of the region need to be heard. "What happened on Saturday was a disaster of calamitous proportions, a deluge. The damages were unavoidable but they were exacerbated by urban issues."

CDS propose post-storm measures. The regional leader of the CDS-PP said it is a time for convergence rather than divergence and for unity instead of division. He said, "The main cause of the disaster, the torrential rains, are historically known."  In Madeira there was a "lack of rigorous  planning and land management, improper occupation of land, construction on the banks and beds of streams, lack of clearing of many streams throughout the region, dumping of debris on land and in water courses, insufficient reforestation of serras, lack of clearing of trees and woods destroyed by fires and lack of consolidation of many escarpments, these are causes that amplify the natural disaster." After learning from these mistakes, it is necessary to make decisions and courageous interventions in the field of spatial (territorial) planning.

UPDATE

"This is a superior people." Jardim was not surprised at the speed of cleaning, saying, "This is a superior people."  He was speaking at the end of Sunday Mass celebrated in memory of the victims of the storm of February 20th. At the end of Mass, the Mayor of Funchal highlighted the fibre of people accustomed to overcome many adversities. Also present, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said he was impressed with the progress of work and the solidarity of the country, which he has not seen since Timor, for eleven years. In celebration of the Eucharist, the Bishop of Funchal called the faithful to keep hope alive. He pointed to the recovery of the crucifix and statue of the Imaculada Conceição da Capela das Babosas, the chapel destroyed by the flood of February 20th, "as real signs of consolation and hope for our people."

Sócrates says this is not the time for recriminations and disputes. The Prime Minister argued on Sunday that the priority is to ensure a framework for cooperation and financial links with the Regional Government to allow the rapid reconstruction of Madeira, saying this is a moment of solutions instead of recriminations and disputes. José Sócrates said about the situation in Madeira, that currently the primary duty is the cooperation between the Government of the Republic and the Regional Government of Madeira. He declined to make any controversial comments on the Regional Finance Law, which was passed in Parliament by opposition parties, stating it is not connected to the State Budget – voting scheduled for mid-March -  and both executives will provide solutions to resolve all political issues that may hamper cooperation. It is urgent to rebuild the region for the rapid return of life and the economy back to normal. Asked if this is a positive signal to Alberto Jardim, he said, "Yes, of course." He said it is important for Madeirans to know there is national solidarity. The whole nation needs the recovery of Madeira’s economy and for it to contribute to the national economy.

Special Law for Madeira.  Early report from today’s meeting between the President of the Regional Government and the Prime Minister, José Sócrates. The Regional Government and the Government of the Republic agreed the creation of an Extraordinary Law that will be approved by the Assembly of the Republic, for the situation in Madeira. There will be three priorities for action: help the homeless, boost the economy and rebuild the affected infrastructure.

This story / link was sent in by both Paul and Tom … many thanks. Recovering Madeira Tries to Restart Tourism Industry. "The local government did a very good job of cleaning up," Mr. Becker said. "We’ll be back next year, for sure." “A week after torrential rains and mudslides killed 42 people and left 17 missing on Madeira, government officials are trying to restart the tourism business that is vital to the Atlantic island’s economy.

Tourism marketing after a natural disaster. It won’t be easy. Tourism marketing after a natural disaster is problematic because officials need to be careful not to appear insensitive toward the victims while also letting potential visitors know that it is safe to come.

Cleanup crews and local utilities have made rapid progress in removing mud and debris from the streets of Funchal, the capital, and restoring water, power and telecommunications services. Work continues in the worst-affected areas of Funchal, where some underground parking lots that had been flooded are still being drained. Other parts of the island that were hit harder, such as the town of Ribeira Brava, will require more extensive cleanup and reconstruction efforts.

Tourism represents 20% of the economy of this Portuguese autonomous region, located more than 600 miles west of the European mainland. It employs 7,000 people in the hotel sector alone, out of a total population of 245,000. Most of the tourists come from Britain, Germany and Portugal, according to official figures.

"People have seen so much on television about this disaster that it might discourage them from going," says Angelo Rossini, a research analyst for London-based Euromonitor. At the same time, he says, "respect for the dead can also be an issue. It might be a problem to get people to go for sun and vacation so soon after the tragedy."

Conceição Estudante, the regional government’s secretary-general for tourism and transport, said last week that the government had started reconstruction efforts. Local hotel operators, travel agents and tour operators are contacting tourists who had reservations, as well as potential new visitors.

The images of destruction have led to hundreds of cancellations at island hotels, said Ricardo Rodrigues, manager of the Funchal Design hotel, in the centre of the capital, and of another hotel in the hills behind the city.

"There should be a time of mourning, but everyone realizes that life has to go on," he said.

Tourists who were in Madeira during the storm have applauded the government’s response to the disaster.

Joachim Becker, a 60-year-old environmental-health and medicine worker from Essen, Germany, said he and his wife rode out the storm in a small villa outside the capital.”

“There was mud everywhere, including in the pool, but they say the storm won’t stop them from returning.”

"The local government did a very good job of cleaning up," Mr. Becker said. "We’ll be back next year, for sure."  FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Also this one from Paul … 9,845 Euros (13,290 U.S. dollars) for Madeira! The Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Portugal raised at a night gala a total of 9,845 Euros (13,290 U.S. dollars) for Madeira : SOURCE 

Today’s news headlines from the front page of the Diário de Notícias :

Chaos clogs a restricted Funchal – The citizens weren’t very cooperative and the city was swamped in the morning and early afternoon. It was as expected apparently, with appeals from the authorities to use other means of transport for getting to ones destination being ignored by many.

Facilities provided for those who lost their car.

The hundred+ year old bridge in Ribeira Brava at risk of collapse. I have found a stunning video of the pounding of this bridge on 20th February, and will include it on tomorrows blog.

Culture with a schedule out of step with the reconstruction.

Today’s main news headline : Commitment assumed and it just remains to be fulfilled – Meeting of the new buddies [prime  minister] Sócrates and [president] Jardim went well. Joint committee will define support for homes, damage and businesses. A sight for sore eyes indeed. I can only hope that this forced ‘solidarity’ between these two powerful men who run Portugal and Madeira will last long beyond the current crisis. Great photo, and the words spoken are most certainly along the lines of "vai primeiro senhor", … "não, não, vai você, se faz favour", but who spoke first I have no idea.

Exceptional law for Madeira – Agreement between Sócrates and Jardim. The President of the Regional Government met with the prime minister for more than two hours.

SRRH reinforces placement of unemployed in the market – Workers keep unemployment benefit increased by 25% from SMN, and food and transport subsidies.

Numbers of missing persons don’t add up – The official website of the regional government maintains that there are still seven people yet to be found. But an unofficial list maintains that there are 14 names of missing people that the families and the authorities are still trying to trace.

Continentals are the target of a campaign for holidays on Madeira – Tourism of Portugal  offers publicity for the Flower Festival.

The main sport / football headline today : The Nacional [v Belenenses] game was put back until this afternoon. Thick fog made the game scheduled in the Choupana last night impossible to play.

If anyone else can oblige with the translation of any of the ‘blank’ or sparsely filled headlines, or other news stories, here is the link. All contributions much appreciated. 

PLEASE NOTE : There is a blog software upgrade being done tomorrow morning, so it will be ‘out of service’ and inaccessible for a short while.

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12 thoughts on “Flood recovery progress update ; Mixed reaction in Jersey ; Funchal at night on video”

  1. Following on from Ders link re Jersey.

    Quote from the JEP – Will be interesting to see comments

    A MAJOR clean-up operation was under way today after Jersey was battered by a vicious storm which killed at least 55 people across Western Europe.

    Dozens of homes were flooded, trees were felled and banks collapsed as torrential rain and strong winds swept up from the south on Saturday night.

    On another matter, turning to Ders link, I am Scottish, now back in Glasgow and having lived in Jersey for almost 5 yrs in the late 80’s and early 90’s I am sad to to admit that these comments on the JEP website seem all to familiar. In my expericence it is all to common that many non locals experience some form of similar treatment from a small minority, who shout louder than all the decent folk on Jersey, on an ongoing basis. It is not only the people of Madeira, but any “non local” who experience such treatment.

    I once had a “local” friend and his father was a local advocate/judge and he invited me to play golf with him and his father, jokingly saying that it would make a change to meet a Scot that wasnt up in from of him. On another occassion a report on a assualt was reported as a man was seen running away with a “Scottish accent”.

    Unfortunately therefore Madeira is not alone in being targeted in Jersey. To be fair though many of the Scots in Jersey didn’t represent the country well, but the point is still relevant.

    Finanlly I am very impressed how Madeira has reacted to the the damage and how hard they have worked to recover to such a point so quickly. Thank you to all those who worked many long and hard hours over the recent period.

    Reply
  2. That was Tom,s post Der…
    ~
    we had small hail in Caniço de Baixo , but a friend said it was much larger in Funchal , incredible.

    Most the web cams seem to have stopped working , but i know there is snow upstairs but the road has been closed at Poiso.

    Reply
  3. Der – Thanks for the mass of info you have provided this last week. We are in the UK but did lose a friend in Gaula whose house fell down the valley due to a landslide caused by the rains. At first we thought the destruction was located mainly in Funchal and Ribeira Brava. But after learning of this tragedy it is apparant that many areas have been affected. My prayers are with all who have been affected by this disaster.

    Tobi – On a more positive note thanks for some fantastic photos on Flikr of the clear up operation which is sure to be a massive boost not only to those in the local neighbourhood but like us watching from afar. I am sure Madeira will return once more to be the majestic jewel in the Atlantic.

    Reply
  4. The people of Madeira are fantastic, and such great work in this clear up, and working 24 hours a day. I have had a walk along the Promenade at Caniço de Baixo, and they were just finishing washing it all down, the planted areas have been seen to and trees that were leaning are now all supported, the Promenade has suffered a lot of damage by the Rui hotel, and will need re-paving, but im sure this will be done quickly. Still lots of canes on the beach but no real hurry for these to be cleared till we know this worst of the weather is over, lets hope that is soon.

    Reply
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