A VIOLENT storm caused chaos on Wednesday night leaving broken Fallas monuments, drivers trapped in cars and record rainfall levels in its wake.
Rain had been forecast for late on Wednesday, but nothing on the scale that fell was predicted. September is generally a stormy month in Valencia and celebrating Las Fallas was always going to be risky but the huge monuments have been in storage for nearly 18 months and need to be burnt to make way for the new ones already under way for next March’s celebrations.
Wednesday was the first day of the festivities in the city, La Plantà, when the monuments are finished, ready for the judges to start visiting them the following morning, and falleros gather to celebrate, with many organising dinners in their carpas, the marquees put up close to the monuments. However, around 11pm on Wednesday, as fireworks were released in different parts of the city, the heavens opened, the wind got up and many of the newly installed fallas started faltering, many losing parts of their structures and in Catarroja the entire falla fell over.
At the Antiga Campanar falla their marquee was turned upside down and blew away along the street. a video of it has gone viral on social media.
Valencia mayor, Joan Ribò changed his agenda to visit some of the fallas the morning after the storm. He tweeted messages of encouragement and a photo of the City Council’s falla, the famous ‘Meditodora’, where the statue appeared to be crying. He said: “The tears of the Meditator last night are the tears of everyone. But we falleros, like Valencians, don’t give up and we’ll continue to give our all to keep the flame alive, to keep the Fallas festival alive, the best festival in the world.”
Other towns were also hit by the storm, including Pedralba where the rainfall reached almost 100 litres /m2 in the hours just before and just after midnight.
Between 10pm and midnight on Wednesday, emergency services were called to 219 rain-related incidents, 201 of them in Valencia province. There were calls to cars blocked by water in Torrent, Paterna and Bétera, as well as Pedralba where there were people trapped inside their cars.