The snowfall in Madrid, which lasted since Thursday and became the most powerful in at least half a century, is over, snowplows are gradually clearing the streets in the city, and local residents have taken in their hands shovels, and who do not have, other improvised means to clear the approaches to the entrances and garages.
Authorities in Madrid are going to ask the government to recognize the city as a disaster zone, said Mayor Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida. He also calls to send additional military units to the city to eliminate the consequences of the disaster. The Philomena snowstorm, unseen in recent decades, did indeed lead to disastrous consequences – the city was completely paralyzed, buses do not run, the rail service was interrupted and since Friday the Barajas airport has not been working.
The day before the authorities urged citizens not to go out (which, however, Madrid has not listened to), today asked them to clear the approaches to the houses, entrances to underground garages, remove snow from balconies and windows. This time, the people of Madrid followed their request. Armed with shovels and other tools at hand, they began to clear the sidewalks of snow that threatens to turn into ice – the snow has begun to thaw, and in the coming days is expected a sharp drop in temperature.
In addition to shovels, any means at hand are being used: sticks, shovels, carts, brushes, pots, and pans. “You can’t clean the entrance of the underground garage with these, at least the approach to the entrance,” says a resident of a high-rise apartment building who is holding a plastic shovel. Not everyone has a normal iron shovel. A girl tries to reach the canopy above the outdoor café with a stick. “This is the longest I could find. There’s nothing,” she explains.
Queues for bread.
Quite a few stores were open despite Sunday – especially those belonging to the Chinese – but there were no shovels, only cuttings for them.
There were no shovels at the gas station either. Vendors say they sold out all the tire chains on Saturday (traffic in the autonomous community of Madrid is only allowed on them, although the authorities still insist on not driving anywhere). In addition to the chains, people go to the gas station to get bread, since trucks are also unable to move around the community of Madrid, with delivery being interrupted.
A long line of several dozen meters lined up at the bakery, a little smaller at the tobacco shop.
The picture is very different from what happened on Saturday. Because the streets of the capital were completely covered with snow and there were practically no cars, people played snowballs, built snowmen, and went skiing. On Saturday evening, police broke up one of these snowball battles in Callao Square downtown. The rare skiers still try to drive on the roads today, but it is already difficult to do so because the snow is turning into a slurry due to melting.
It is unclear when the authorities will begin to clean the fallen under the weight of snow branches and trees, some narrow streets in the center were almost completely blocked.
The main thing – hospitals
The approaches to the hospitals have been cleared. The day before, ambulance doctors were often forced to take the metro to patients because the ambulances could not get through the city. The military was sent to their aid. In addition, a group of volunteers with SUVs was organized in social networks, and patients were driven on them. Groups of volunteers were also organized to help clear the entrances to the hospitals.
A crisis committee meeting was held Saturday in Madrid with Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, the ministers of transportation, and the Interior Ministry. “We continue to work with all available resources … to mitigate the effects of Philomena. Coordination and cooperation are key now,” Sanchez wrote on Twitter following its outcome.
The head of the Interior Ministry, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, said that all strategic roads in the community of Madrid are unblocked, although the country as a whole has problems on more than 700 roads, traffic is completely prohibited on 170, on 435 it is mandatory to use chains. “There are no people in cars on the highways,” he assured, promising that cars abandoned on the roads in the community of Madrid will be evacuated in the coming hours. In addition, he said, the movement of vans and trucks under the convoy of the Guardia Civil will soon begin.
Grande-Marlaska again urged to avoid unnecessary movement and exercise extreme caution as temperatures are expected to drop.
Transportation Minister Jose Luis Abalos said that trains from the capital in some directions will resume as soon as possible.