Return of the first cruise ship ; British tourists tell of ordeal ; Why the floods happened

Today’s photo – Many thanks to … Pete : "Funchal first cruse liner waiting to dock since disaster.  Thought you may like it not docked yet". The AIDAluna of course, and a nice way to start the week in a positive way, with some signs of normality returning. Der

madeira news blog 1002 pete cruise ship

From Tobi by email : "I haven’t put this on the blog as i think Madeira has had enough bad news over the last week, But if you think people should know then I’m happy for you to post.

My best friend from Caniço went to Funchal for a drink around 10.30 pm Thursday night, as he travelled through São Martinho a large rock hit the underneath of his car, he stopped to have a look, he was approached by a man who held a knife to his throat and told him to get in the car and drive up the road, up the road 4 other men were waiting , they robbed him of money, jewellery and mobile phone. He was not hurt but of course very shaken, he drove straight back home to contact police.

I’m quite shocked about this, and i would guess the rock was left in the road or thrown underneath the car on purpose so these people can select who they rob, as he has a nice car. I guess he was lucky he is on a small island, ’cause if it had happened on mainland the car would have gone too. I remember back home Gipsy’s used to leave things in quiet roads, so people would have to stop to remove the obstruction and then they would rob them, I just hope this is not a new crime starting here. Thanks Tobi … and I think people should be aware, so you have been advised! Der

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

A geological explanation of why the floods happened.   …The city centre sits on slightly sloped ground, while outer suburbs perch on the mountain slopes around the city. On February 19-20, 2010, when heavy rain poured down on the island, the high suburbs suffered mudslides and floods. As this map illustrates, the slopes around Funchal surround the city in a semicircle, so water flowing down the mountains was concentrated in the bowl where the city is located. The devastating floods killed at least 42 with 18 still missing as of February 23, according to the government of Madeira … MORE

The great Madeira cleanup. Secretary General of the UN World Tourism Organization Taleb Rifai comments on the hotel and Tourism industry after the recent natural events in Madeira… "The quick response action undertaken by the competent authorities at local and national levels, together with the support of the EU, have been instrumental in this catastrophe. The city centre sits on slightly sloped ground, while outer suburbs perch on the mountain slopes around the city. On February 19-20, 2010, when heavy rain poured down on the island, the high suburbs suffered mudslides and floods. As this map illustrates, the slopes around Funchal surround the city in a semicircle, so water flowing down the mountains was concentrated in the bowl where the city is located. The devastating floods killed at least 42 with 18 still missing as of February 23, according to the government of Madeira … MORE

A one minute Euronews video. The cleanup operation has begun on Madeira after the floods and landslides that ravaged the Portuguese island last week. VIDEO

Many thanks to Becky for these videos / web snippets :

When looking at the Costa Serena gliding into Funchal, you don’t imagine that it could leak.  Another reason I don’t go on cruises.

Only 9 seconds, but something good to watch when stuck anywhere other than Madeira. 

Many thanks to Paul for this useful information x 3 :

Roads back open on the 28th Feb (Funchal) :

· Campo da Barca Bridge.

· Rua do Carmo to Rua do Oudinot

· Jaime Moniz High School to Carmo Bridge

Bridge closed temporarily

·The bridge near Lavradores Market will be closed for cleaning

Source: Official Report from Regional Government of Madeira – 28/02/2010

It was a one off event, a catastrophe that isn’t likely to happen again, and one that the island will soon recover from says British victim

Roger and Gillian Wilson, British holidaymakers, have spoken for the first time of the ordeal they endured when the taxi in which they were travelling between hotels with another British couple was hit by a mudslide.

Firefighters work to pump water away outside a shopping center

He praised the emergency services on Madeira and hoped that tourists would not be put off coming to the island because of the recent tragedy.

"It is a wonderful place and the people of Madeira have been truly fantastic. It was a one off event, a catastrophe that isn’t likely to happen again, and one that the island will soon recover from," insisted Mr Wilson.

"Tourism is the life-blood of Madeira and I really hope people will be sensible enough to realise that it is still worth coming here – we will definitely be back for another holiday," he said. Source: Telegraph Newspaper

Paul do Mar collects for flood victims

Paul do Mar/West Coast



Paul do Mar’s inhabitants have been collecting food items for flood victims all week. The initiative has been led by a young soldier in the village and supported by the Paul do Mar Casa do Povo. The leaders are hoping to get an army truck here today on Sunday to transport it to Funchal for distribution. If an army truck is not available it will go to Funchal in private trucks soon.


Another email from Tobi : "I have a new set of photos on Flickr. The big clean up has been going on for a week now round the island , and I’m totally amazed at how fast it has happened. See the clean up pics here

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

DIÁRIO 28/02/2010


Diário honours the victims and the heroes. A photographic record of those who died and those involved in the rescue. Today’s magazine also has a 26 page photographic record of the disaster. Both available on-line. THE VICTIMS      THE PHOTOS

Men and machines go to Serra de Água. By the end of today, the dredging of the streams in Funchal should be completed. The Regional Government has asked the construction companies to transfer their workforce and machinery to start an immediate large-scale intervention in Serra de Água. Only the mouth of the ribeira de São João still requires intervention. This was the most complex job as almost 300 metres were totally clogged with stones and other inert materials, forcing the water to divert into the tunnel and causing serious problems in the area of São Lázaro. The staff of Tâmega have worked 24 hours a day since last Sunday to ensure the safety of the city. The ribeiras of Santa Luzia and João Gomes have been cleared and just areas of walls need to be reconstructed. When this phase has been concluded, the excavators and lorries, more than 100 of each, will start constructing the tunnel between Meia Légua and Serra d’Água in Ribeira Brava. This tunnel will cost around 40 million Euros. They will also need to attend to the main stream in the area, channelling it where necessary. Over the past seven days, 200,000 cubic metres of stones and other debris have been removed from the three streams in Funchal. The inert material (gravel) is worth more than half a million Euros in the commercial market. The Regional Government has made no decision about the fate of the recovered material – inerts and mud. At present, builders do not require inert material and transportation costs are high – 13,000 trips would be needed to move the entire stock. The fate of the roundabout at Dolce Vita has not been decided. The machinery started clearing the streams on the Saturday afternoon (20th February) despite the intense rainfall then the company increased the number of men and machinery when the gravity of the situation was realized, under the command of Santos Costa. At the end of yesterday, both Santos Costa and Alberto Jardim went to each of the streams to personally thank the employees and directors of the companies responsible for the cleaning.

Navy maintains search in Santo António. This search began last week with divers, doctors and special surveillance equipment sent to the stream and police closed the road between Rampa and Caminho do Laranjal and sealed off the area. The Navy teams are slowly working their way up stream to the bridge at the cemetery of Santo António. They are searching for the body of Manuel Nunes, a former sacristão (Sexton) of the Sé. There are also suspicions that two women have been swept away after flooding in Laranjal which lies above the stream. Bags belonging to them have been found in the reeds. Their house has been destroyed and it is thought they were trying to flee during the storm last Saturday. This is an area where there has been much destruction and many deaths, the firefighters rescued many from their houses but it is also the area where the crane used in the construction of the new cota 500 (expressway) fell. The residents fear that the other cranes are unstable, especially during the recent winds. A week is not enough time for the neighbours to mourn the losses in this area. The storm destroyed 80% of the sewerage in the high areas of this parish. The old sewerage tanks are being reactivated until the pipes can be repaired. The water supply is not affected by the sewerage problem but residents are still advised to boil it first. One of the photos is of a 14 year old who helped rescue neighbours.


Since October, bad weather has been front-page news. The previous bad weather cannot parallel the tragedy of Saturday 20th February, but the weather has often made front-page news since October 2009. October 3rd, it was reported that three houses had collapsed in Funchal after heavy rainfall. October 5th, several landslides and accidents were due to rain. On October 6th, it was reported that the rainfall was abnormal compared to the past 30 years and a 300% increase over Summer. December 16th, floods and landslides and December 19th, waves, rain and wind caused damage throughout the region. 23rd December, streams overflowed at São Vicente and Madalena do Mar, and São João was without water. 24th December, houses at risk in São Vicente and four parishes of Santana without water. The promenades at Faial and Madalena were destroyed, homes and cars damaged by falling trees in Santa Cruz and flooding and landslides in Funchal and Curral das Freiras. 27th December, the bad weather had left Ponta do Sol without water. December 29th, families displaced in Monte and isolated in Serra d’Água. In 2010, 3rd February, a day and night of bad weather caused chaos throughout Madeira, particularly in Santana and Porto da Cruz and areas of Machico were left unrecognizable. February 16th, the sea caused damage and on February 18th, it was reported that the sea had engulfed many coastal infrastructures.

RG3 still needs help. Donations needed of: deodorant, toilet paper, flour, corn, coffee, chocolate, gel and / or shaving cream, rice, cereals, salt, cream, pasta, after-shave, nappies and adult incontinence pads, colónias para bebés (?), bath gel for infants and adults, and hair conditioner.

Lions Club of Funchal opens an account. To raise funds to help resettle victims of the flood. NIB of bank account for donations, account in CGD is: 0035 0336 0011 7092 9305 0.


AidaAluna brings tourists. After six cancellations of cruise ships, the Port of Funchal returns to normal today. 2,250 German tourists arrived and were greeted with a warm welcome and presented with flowers. This charm offensive was by the Port Administrators who also laid on a bus to transport tourists to downtown Funchal. A symbolic day for the region. The Costa Europa, a frequent visitor, suffered a serious accident the day before yesterday while mooring at Sharm el-Sheik in Egypt. The strong wind pushed the ship against the wall of the port, killing three crew members and two passengers were injured. The hull was damaged and the cruise had to be ended. In April, the ship will operate under charter to Thomson Cruises with the name Thomson Dream.

APAVT and TAP to see reconstruction. Tomorrow, a delegation form the Portuguese Association of Travel Agents and Tourism is expected in Madeira to see the progress of the recuperation of the regional infrastructure following the recent floods. The president and vice-president will meet the Regional Secretary of Tourism and Transport to hear an account of initiatives taken to support the resumption of tourism. Journalists from the major Portuguese tourism publications will also be flown in by TAP, accompanied by the airline’s general manager.



All displaced to be rehoused by the end of March.  The chairman of the IHM said that all housing situations caused by the storm of 20th February should be resolved by the end of March. In Funchal, Santa Cruz and Câmara de Lobos, people would either be temporarily or permanently rehoused. The same for Ribeira Brava, but the IHM has no vacant accommodation so they are looking for leasing or purchasing housing, (which is scarce), or asking emigrants with empty property to temporarily lease it. In other counties, there are fewer people to be accommodated. The various authorities will see if those temporarily rehoused can go back to their own homes or if the houses cannot be recuperated.

Bridge mounted on Tuesday. The Mayor of Ribeira Brava announced that a military bridge would allow access to Fajã da Ribeira, replacing the one that was destroyed. Another bridge allowing access to Tabua should be constructed either that day or the next day. There is still no road access to north Tabua but road access to south Tabua is now opened. Still restricted access to Serra d’Água but trucks taking donated goods to the area are allowed and 40 military personnel are offering support to the isolated population.

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

Damages in commerce hit by the floods – The loss of rent in certain establishments is on the way to hitting 20 million Euros.

Today’s main news headline : Restaurants in the marina are going to ground – The storms and their destruction oblige the Ports to prepare for works : 8 units in Funchal Marina, amongst them restaurants and shops, are  going now to be demolished. The new structures will cost €5 million, and 100 workers will lose their jobs.

Anxiety surrounds the summit in Lisbon – [president] Jardim says  he trusts in [prime minister] Sócrates regarding the promised support. Parties expect money for the Region and responsibility.

Sócrates says that the priority is cooperation – The prime minister says that now is not the moment for "recriminations and disputes".

"If everything were to run normally, I will get to 2011 and say ‘cheerio, until next time’". Jardim admits to reconsidering his decision to quit the Regional Government in 2011.

Cleaning operations underway in Luso-Brasileira – Public Security Police asks residents to stay at home.

Citizens with an important role in the ‘return’ of Funchal – Life goes back to normal today in the capital, but with many constraints. The council requests understanding : the ideal action is to leave the car at home. The Diário shows the closed streets and authorised parking spaces. MAP SHOWING ROADS CLOSED / RESTRICTED & CAR PARKS OPEN

Rumours continue to disrupt the reconstruction and the searches.

"This is a superior people" – Jardim says he was not surprised by the speed of the clean up.

Schools reopen on Monday – The exception is the Language Academy of Madeira  that "for reasons of safety" will resume classes on Tuesday.

Traffic returns to almost all of the streets of Funchal – Six car parks are open starting Monday.

The storm in Madeira was only a "sign" of a global trend – The Director of the North American Centre for  Science and Technology for Coastal Margin Observation, warns : Portugal "is going to  live in the midst of climate change".

The main sport / football headline today : Alvalade returns to live a night of triumph – Gala exhibition of Sporting results in thrashing (3 – 0) of FC Porto. The ‘classic’ match raised around 30 thousand Euros for Madeira. Today Nacional v Belenenses – 8.15 pm SportTV1.

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. 

Many thanks to Paul for sending in these two links to articles :

1. What Atlantic Holidays, part of the Pestana Group, is advising its clients who booked or are considering holidays in Madeira. “The situation in Madeira has improved immensely in the last few days and the island is gradually returning to normal.” Atlantic Holidays part of the Pestana Group informs its customers on its website that: None of the tourist resorts nor the hotels have been affected and, therefore, we continue to operate our holidays as planned.” Link to their site with up to date images of the island

2. BBC Interview with Joao Camacho in Gloucester who runs Atlantic Holidays. “A storm of this magnitude has never happened before in Madeira so everybody is upset”, says João Camacho in Gloucester who runs Atlantic Holidays, interviewed on BBC Radio Gloucestershire. INTERVIEW

And here’s another one just in this morning … Island Escape, but no escape this week … thanks for the photo Pete.

madeira news blog 1003 pete island escape cruise ship—————————————————————————————————————————————–
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7 thoughts on “Return of the first cruise ship ; British tourists tell of ordeal ; Why the floods happened”

  1. Like Tobi I did not want to add any more bad news for Madeira, however for your advice:

    Last week our guests parked their hire car at the viewpoint at Camara do Lobos and within minutes of walking away heard a “smashing” sound. Man seen running with Lady’s handbag to parked Mercedes which sped away. Guests car rear side window smashed with a rock (sic) and handbag stolen. Other valubles safe in boot. Handbag recovered close by, monies missing but passport and credit cards intact.

    Police informed (112) English speaking policeman present in less than 10 minutes.
    SIXT car hire informed, made direct call to guest and arranged replacement car straightway.

    Bad and Good – the tale of the “two” Cities.
    Keep valuables out of sight.
    Be aware, sorry on behalf of ALL the decent people of Madeira – by far the vast majority.

  2. Great images of the clean-up. Thanks Tobi.
    We should have been in Madeira last week and this week, but have deferred the visit until later.
    So instead of squandering all the cash on Coral, we have sent some off to the Madeira Appeal.
    Just out of interest, what is the Town Council going to do with 20000 tonnes of rock, now sitting just off the promenade?

  3. 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), 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’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 nothing. There is another fund raising event in Ribeira Brava tonight where friends and locals will also put 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 be 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.

  4. The flights for myself and my 3 young children are booked and paid for, with the amount of wine I drink, I might single handedly save the Madeiran econony if I double my consumption

    Can I have the bank details please, I dont have paypal, my heart goes out to that poor young man

  5. The English church are wrong to give the impression that no ‘official’ funds are available so they are setting up facilities. There have been all banks open a bank account as well as the Red Cross, so if you want t o make a contribution just walk into any bank and ask to give some money, these accounts have been available since 22nd Feb

  6. I remember reading about Feliz last week and although I didn’t know his name then, I found it impossible to comprehend what he must be going through. To have your whole family wiped out instantly, well, it’s too horrific for words. With no-one to share his grief, he has to bear it all on his own (at such a young age) and somehow, he has to carry on and live life, with the added problem of disability. Family and home wiped out on one February day.

    My heart really goes out to him, which is useless to him, of course… he doesn’t even know me! But thanks very much for offering to collect for the fundraising evening, Der, it’s really great to be able to help in a tangible way by sending cash. I sent money towards the general fund, but very glad to be able to help someone with a name in a time of desperate need.

    I hope plenty of people turn out for the fundraiser and that he’s able to take some small comfort from it… although with R. Brava battling bad weather again tonight that may be difficult. Thanks again for collecting on our behalf, Der… and perhaps you might pass on news of his progress as and when you hear it?

  7. I lost my only remaining parent at the age of 23, I was left with one sister, no grandparents or any extended family. Since then I have had no family and have learnt to appreciate my sibling although we are very different.
    I also know there are those a lot worse off than myself-that I am fortunate.
    On a social level there is little understanding of this situation as family/children is the “norm”. The happy family syndrome in media and especially christmas fillms etc can be especially poignant.
    I want contribute to Feliz and know that the loss of family really cannot be replaced unless he can move on to create his own family unit and future. And with that I wish him all the best and hope for his future life ahead.
    In fact when there is less family sometimes you invest more into the relationship!!


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