Storm batters Iberian peninsula, damages roads, buildings
LISBON, Portugal (AP) — An Atlantic storm slammed into the Iberian peninsula Tuesday, dumping heavy rain on Portugal and Spain and drawing a line under the severe drought that gripped the two countries for most of the year.
The storm caused widespread flooding, especially in Portugal’s coastal capital city, before moving eastward into Spain, where heavy rain washed out roads. No casualties were reported.
Portuguese authorities enlisted military equipment to help drain floodwaters in Lisbon, a week after one person died in a similar deluge.
City Hall instructed residents to stay inside and told commuters to avoid the city.
Homes and stores were flooded, roads were cut off, and train, bus and subway services were disrupted. Several schools canceled classes, and some tourist landmarks shut their doors.
The Portuguese Civil Protection agency, a government body, said about 5,000 emergency workers were on duty across the country.
Officials estimated the damage at millions of euros (dollars).
Emergency authorities said the heavy rain likely would continue into Wednesday, with forecasts for thunder and “extreme” instances of high wind.
All districts of Portugal except one were placed on orange alert, the second-highest level of emergency preparedness.
The storm moved across the border into Spain later Tuesday, where heavy rain also flooded roads and houses.
Spanish television showed images of a highway in western Spain’s Extremadura region that was washed away by rushing water, leaving a gaping hole.
At least two dams, one on each side of the border, were due to open their sluice gates after reservoirs filled up.
Lisbon has long been prone to flooding. It stands at the mouth of the Tagus, the peninsula’s longest river, where it meets the Atlantic Ocean. Part of the city is built on two tributaries that feed into the Tagus.
Lisbon Mayor Carlos Moedas said extreme weather events were becoming more frequent due to climate change.
He said work will begin soon on two large drainage tunnels which are expected to ease flooding.
Weather forecasters said another major storm could hit Portugal next week.
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