Newsletter December 2012
Margarida Sampaio @
Usually the most that we can say about the weather in these parts is that it has been very hot (all through the summer) or that there has been a huge rain storm. We all know that when it rains it really pours in the Algarve and we are used to some pretty spectacular storms taking place but I don't think anyone was prepared for the storm and tornado that swept across Carvoeiro on November 16 and the destruction from this storm is still being dealt with now.
This is the time of year when we are all getting ready to celebrate Christmas and New Year, however for some, the festive season is going to be more difficult than ever after they lost their homes, cars and possessions in the storm.
THE DAY THE TORNADO CAME
There have been some great films posted onto YouTube and onto Facebook showing the tornado as it builds up over the sea and then makes its way towards Carvoeiro but the reality of the storm for everyone who was here at the time was that it was a pretty terrifying experience.
In Carvoeiro the thunder and lightning had been almost shaking the buildings through the town all morning and leaving the church on the cliffs with a small fire after it was hit by lightning but it was at around 1pm that the tornado hit land.
Most of Carvoeiro was left unscathed by the storm and anyone driving through the centre of the town later that evening would not have known that anything had even happened earlier in the day. All the tables and chairs were still out, the wind had dropped, the rain had stopped and it was just another winters evening in Carvoeiro.
While the main town in Carvoeiro was fine it was up in and around the Monte Santo resort and around Quinta do Paraiso that there was significant damage from the storm.
Houses on the edge of Monte Santo (near to the roundabout with the religious icon on it) saw quite a bit of damage with roof tiles being ripped off and all the fencing around the resort at the point being destroyed.
Around the Golden Club all of the fencing had been brought down and a portacabin which had been used as a sales office in the past had been picked up and tipped over.
Around the corner from here, next to the O Branco restaurant, the new large houses on this side of the road had seen some damage, especially to roofs while on the other side of the road the houses that are on the edge of the Quinta do Paraiso complex saw some heavy damage as trees were pulled down and debris had smashed into them.
The worst effected property had to be the red house near to the roundabout on the opposite side of the road to the Monte Santo resort, this house had all of its windows blown in, the solar panels ripped off the roof and found around 2 kilometers away, and lots more damages had also been sustained during the storm.
While the storm had left destruction in Carvoeriro the situation was worse still in Lagoa and Silves.
The worst hit area in Lagoa was next to the EN125 near to the Jumbo petrol station. The tornado had ripped up the olive trees along the side of the road and had even uprooted an enormous tree near to the bridge. The pedestrian footbridge also saw lots of damage while all of the road signs in this area (and some of them were huge) had been ripped up or blown over.
From the road alone you could see the houses on the opposite side of the road that had windows blown in, tiles missing from the roofs and debris everywhere. What we couldn't see at the time that was within this area of apartments there had been cars blown over and tipped and there were around 80 properties in total that were badly damaged.
I spoke to one of the residents from this area of Lagoa and he said he saw one white van being picked up and thrown on to a first floor balcony before it then smashed down on top of cars parked below.
Over in Silves it was the area in and around the municipal swimming pool that saw the most damage with some of the mobile homes that park in this area being tipped over and injuring the people inside.
The swimming pool building was more or less destroyed, as was the Silves football stadium and there was damage in other areas too with fallen trees and flipped cars.
One person from Quinte do Paraiso in Carvoeiro told me that the tornado probably only lasted around 4 seconds as it passed their home but the noise was deafening and the damage it did was enormous.
While the storm was awful the community spirit that followed was actually amazing from what I saw and efforts are still continuing.
Within only minutes of the storm passing there were members of the authorities and local councils out on the streets in Lagoa, Silves and Carvoeiro and they were joined by members of the community who all got to work straight away t help the injured and to start to clear the debris.
In Carvoeiro the road near to Monte Santo was blocked with rubble and everyone lent a hand to start to clear the road and make it passable again while around by Quinta do Paraiso local gardeners came out with their tools to cut down fallen trees and remove rubble.
Anyone who could hep, did help and it was impressive to see the sense of community shining through as well as the emergency services jumping into action so quickly to help everyone.
The extent of the damage is estimated to run into about five million euros in total with most properties hopefully covered by insurance while others are waiting to see if they will be getting help from the government to rebuild homes.
In Carvoeiro, one local resident has organised a charity bike ride and sponsored walk which will be starting at the swimming pool area in Silves at 10am on December 2. Anyone taking part needs to give a donation of five euros per person and this will then be donated to the local charity Castelo dos Sonhos who help local families in need with everything from food to clothing.
On December 1 there was also a charity football match arranged to take place in Faro with members of football teams from across the Algarve coming together to form one team to play against Sporting Lisbon. The Sporting team are coming down to the Algarve to show their support for the people of the region who were affected by the tornado and will be playing against some of the best footballers in the Algarve from local teams. Tickets for the game have been set at five euros per person to raise as much money as possible and the money raised will be used to rebuild Silves Football Club that was hit very badly in the storm.
We all know that times are hard at the moment in the Algarve but it is at times like this that I realise why I love living here so much and I would like to send out my thanks to everyone who helped in the clean up after the storm - it was a real show of what the Algarve is really like.
CHRISTMAS IS COMING
So it has not been all doom and gloom despite the freaky tornado coming along last month and the community spirit continues in Carvoeiro into December with the annual Christmas fair being organised to take place in the square in Carvoeiro from December 12 until December 16.
Everyday between midday and 6pm there will be stalls selling the usual mixture of Christmas bits and bobs, handicrafts, jewelery, sweets and cakes.
The finer details of the fair are yet to be arranged but this is something that we should all try to support if you are about, because without it there would be hardly any Christmas cheer at all in the town thanks to the lack of decorations and the cutbacks!
In Carvoeiro there will also be a little parade of the local school Children dressed as little mother and father Christmases ands they will be coming down to the village with all their sparkles on December 13 in the morning where they will be bringing their own festive cheer and then will be treated to playing on bouncy castles on the beach - only in the Algarve do have the local children celebrating with bouncy on the beach in their Santa hats!
But it is not only in Carvoeiro where you will find Christmas fairs, there will also be one in Ferragudo on December 1 and 2 and another in Lagoa at the Fatacil between December 7 and 9 - so there will be plenty of opportunities to browse around glittery goods and to eat as much cake as is humanly possible.
If the thought of another Christmas fair hasn't got you excited then perhaps the news that there is now no paid parking in Carvoeiro again might!
But don't get too excited, the area on Rua do Barranco that had paid parking is once again free to park in but this is only going to be for the winter months and come the summer season the black bin bags will be removed from the signs and the paid parking will start up again.
I suppose we could think of it as a Christmas present from the Junta to us all!
The Junta in Carvoeiro (parish council) is facing very tough times at the moment and they are asking for us to support them to try and prevent the Junta of Carvoeiro from being closed down.
Cut backs from the Portuguese government has seen them introduce a plan to close many of the local parish councils to try and cut down on costs and Carvoeiro is one on the lost for the axe.
We all grumble about how Carvoeiro often misses out compared to Lagoa when it comes to local government spending and if the Junta closes in the town then all the control will be in Lagoa and who knows how that will pan out for us in Carvoeiro.
If you would like the Junta in carvoeiro to remain open then all you have to do is send an email (in any language) with your name, address and reason why you don't want the Junta to close. These emails will then be submitted to the government to try and change their mind.
There is nothing to say that the closure won't go ahead anyway but if we don't try then we will never know, so start typing away and sending your emails to email@example.com
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR
And finally I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Winters in Carvoeiro can be really quiet but over the festive season many bars and restaurants reopen and there is a great atmosphere here for everyone who is here at this time of year.
So perhaps I will see you about for Christmas or New Year, well on New Year's Eve it is actually unlikely that I will be able to see anyone thanks to all that fizzy stuff!
Off now to stuff my stockings....see you in 2013!