three years after the flood

The night of October 22 will be three years since the great flood that devastated the Conca de Barberà. The intense rains of the Dana storm overflowed the Francolí River and caused serious flooding.

The water destroyed businesses and emblematic spaces such as the Pont Vell de Montblanc. Just two weeks ago, rehabilitation work began on this medieval bridge, dating from the 12th century. These have a cost of 1.5 million euros and have been financed with aid from the Catalan and Spanish governments.

Mayor Josep Andreu is confident that the work will be finished next July and regrets the delay. Both the mayor and affected businessmen from Espluga de Francolí recall the desolation suffered by the destruction, but also the solidarity of the neighbors.

The image of devastation of the Francolí riverbed, full of trunks, vegetation, mud, and debris is still very present among the neighborhood of the region. Three years after the overflow, the area surrounding the river has returned to sprout again and few scars remain from the storm.

However, until two weeks ago, work had not begun to restore the Pont Vell, one of the most affected by the downpours. The medieval structure withstood the force of the water, but was left without railings. The workers work to repair them and to leave this construction as open as possible.

The subsidies

The intervention of the Pont Vell and its surroundings has a cost of 1.5 million euros. State aid, estimated at 1.6 million, arrived on February 30 of this year, while that of the Generalitat, of 1.5 million, on December 22 of last year. Overall, the cost of all the projects to repair damaged spaces adds up to 3.2 million.

The City Council has added about 200,000 euros for the action on the Bolovi bridge as a result of the increase in costs. The bidding process for these works ends next Tuesday. According to the mayor, the "big" works, such as those of the Pont de Vell and its surroundings, those of the Bolovi, and those of the Molí de Pas, will be completed within nine months.

«I am happy to have started the works on the Pont Vell and I apologize that the administrations as a whole are so slow. The flood was a convulsion for all of us, we will finally be able to recover that emblematic place of Montblanc, it is a joy and a need for the municipality to once again reconcile with the Francolí riverbed, "says Andreu.

“We will never be able to thank the solidarity of the neighbors”

The flood of 2019 wreaked havoc in the municipalities of Albi (Les Garrigues), Riba, Vilaverd and Vimbodí and Poblet and Espluga de Francolí. The latter was one of the most affected. Here, the force of the water swallowed the Rendé Masdeu winery, which has been rebuilt elsewhere in the town.

It was not the only establishment that suffered damage. The Les Disset Fonts restaurant, located practically next to the river, was closed for three months because the overflow destroyed the dining room, the kitchen, the warehouses and the local machines.

Its owner, Juan Carlos León, explains that they had to renew all the cutlery, clean up the sinks and paint everything. "It was sudden, shocking, from leaving everything fine in the morning to finding everything full of water and mud," he recalls. In his case, he was able to rebuild himself thanks to the help of the residents of the municipality. "From the first minute the townspeople helped us, it was very emotional and beautiful," he values.

“We have been able to recover the activity”

Chantal Puig, worker and head of leisure activities at the Drac Actiu company, also remembers the wave of solidarity with emotion. They lost absolutely everything, from bicycles, leisure and office supplies, to laptops and the van.

Windows and doors were also broken and two walls collapsed. «The moral, emotional blow that we found on October 23 was very brutal because from afar we see the main silhouette of the building, which was maintained and we thought that the damage would not be so great, we imagined that it would be flooded, but not destroyed» , recounts.

Given the magnitude of the damage, Puig acknowledges that they considered closing the business after 25 years in operation, since the building - an old wine alcohol factory - had already been renovated when they bought it and only three permanent people work. In addition, 85% of the billing is based on the work they do mainly in spring and with educational centers. In fact, the pandemic was added to the destruction. «The first large group that came to us was on March 11 and since the Department of Education was already talking about closing schools, they no longer wanted to take risks and we did not have any billing until July, which with restrictions, we were able to hold summer camps after months closed. ", Explain.

The works to recover the facilities began in September 2020 and were inaugurated at Easter a year ago. However, the help and predisposition of the residents of the town allowed them to gain strength and recover their activity. «We will never be able to thank them enough, both for what they did in the economic and moral spheres, our first thought was that we could not lift it, but the way in which the people of Espluga went out of their way, from the first day, helping us to clean, bringing food, all this was the injection that allowed us to get up, "closes Puig.

Recover the 'sero zone' of the Espluga de Francolí

In May, the City Council of Espluga de Francolí opened a public park in the so-called 'ground zero' of the flood and terminated the restitution of the damage caused by the overflow. Apart from the recreation area and river park, actions have also been carried out around the area of ​​the Lavadero de la Font Baixa, the area that goes from the Plaza del Milenario to the Puente de la Palanca, the area around the Plaza de la Fuente and the arrangement of roads. These interventions have received aid from the Generalitat and the State. As for the work on the floodable passage of the Camino de la Sinoga, they have been financed by the Provincial Council of Tarragona and by the Town Hall. The sum of all the actions was 713,517.71 euros.

The City Council intends to start drafting the renaturation project for the urban section of the river at the beginning of the year, which will be carried out in phases. In parallel, the council will make a floral offering at the monument dedicated to the eight victims, of which two have not yet been located, next Saturday, coinciding with the third anniversary of the tragedy.

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