History teaches us that finding ourselves unprepared before an emergency can mean turning it into a tragedy. And it is precisely with the purpose of dealing with emergencies, in particular those of the coasts, that the European I-STORMS project was born, intending to provide tools for prevention and early warning for storm surges in the Adriatic-Ionian basin .

The results of the project, co-financed by the Transnational programme Interreg ADRION, were presented at Remtech 2019 , the fair recently concluded in Ferrara, that deals with environmental and territorial issues such as natural hazards and redevelopment.

Among the objectives achieved by the I-STORMS project, there are the sharing of knowledge and data on the subject, through the creation of tools such as the Geoportal and the Sea Storm Atlas, illustrated by the CNR-ISMAR of Venice during the conference, and the definition of the Guidelines for managing the risk of storm surges in the Adriatic-Ionian area that were presented by ARPAE.

As pointed out by Sergio Castellari, EEA (European Environment Agency) expert, in the coming years the storm events may become more frequent and have a greater intensity, negatively impacting the coastal sector and therefore requiring greater attention by the Mediterranean area, in adaptation policies.

And given the sensitivity to the theme, it is Venice with its Lagoon and the well-known high water phenomenon that is the leader of this project that takes into account the greater vulnerability of the coasts and faces the challenge of improving early warning systems and emergency response to extreme phenomena caused by storm surges, as well as promoting cooperation between the countries of the Adriatic-Ionian area.

As Alvise Papa of the Tide Forecasting Center of the Municipality of Venice has pointed out, the establishment of the permanent cooperation table at the Adriatic-Ionian basin level is used precisely to evaluate annually developments and tools in the coastal risk sector and to develop common strategies for safeguarding the coastal territory.

The exercise on the hydraulic and coastal risk “Costa 2019”:

Also within the context of the transnational conference of the I-STORMS project, was the exercise “Costa2019”, the first regional and national simulation on storm surge risk, with the aim of improving coastal risk management. Among the objectives of the exercise, was also the revision and validation of the I-STORMS project guidelines and the updating of civil protection planning.

During the exercise, planned simultaneously in four locations on the Riviera – Comacchio, Cervia, Cesenatico and Riccione – the alert procedures and the operational response were tested, of all the components of the municipal and regional civil protection system, to the storm surges contextual and to river floods. Launched on Friday 20 September with the simulation of an Orange color code alert for floods and storm surges, the exercise continued on Saturday 21st morning, with the actions simulated by the alert system’s operational structures and the interventions put in place by the Provincial coordination and from the civil protection voluntary associations of the provinces involved. The international partners of the I-STORMS project have followed the activities in the Municipality of Cesenatico, a member of the project Network ,set up to share information and tools related to coastal risk in the Adriatic-Ionian basin.

After the greeting of the mayor Matteo Gozzoli and the description of the scenarios and simulations scheduled for the morning, the exercise came to life with the closure of the Porte Vinciane, an effective barrier system to defend the town from flooding due to storm surges, and the sacking of a nearby area exposed to marine ingression. Following this, the project group moved to the area of ​​the reclamation canal to assist in topping up an embankment to contain water infiltration.

All the simulated activities in Cesenatico and in the other municipalities involved, have seen a great involvement of the voluntary service, which has proved once again a valuable resource for event monitoring and emergency management.

At the end of the exercises, the actors of the alert system involved and the I-STORMS partners gathered for a debriefing that revealed the strengths and critical points found in the various scenarios. Great satisfaction was expressed by all parties, for this important simulation which allowed to test the regional warning system and the coastal risk management procedures, verifying the local resources and the critical points present on the coast and making information to citizens more effective.

The National Civil Protection Department, present in Cesenatico as an associated project partner, also showed appreciation for this initiative, the first exercise on the risk of storm surges organized in Italy.

Alessandra De Savino and Giulia Gagliano

Repost from Il Giornale della Protezione Civile.it