Monday, June 14, 2010

The dam disaster

After we went to Lake Barcis, we decided to take the long way home, which was, of course, beautiful.  I’ve just never seen mountains that even compare to the Alps.  The Smokies and Rockies in the States are beautiful too, but the Alps are magnificent.  They literally take your breath away at times, and even in overcast, crappy weather, they’re still a sight to behold.

We had to go through a few tunnels on the way home, which is standard for driving in the Alps.  They just go through them instead of around them and often times the road is following a river. 

Anyway, here are a few of the pictures I took on our drive.


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Here is a massive landslide on the side of the mountain.  I really don’t know how old this particular one was, but it was only a mile or so from the dam.


I have absolutely no clue how they built this towns WAY up on the mountains.  Here’s a close up of the town.


And here is how it looked from where we stood.  Can you see the town WAY up there?


So that little town overlooked the dam.  I thought it was a little odd that there was a random dam here and that they’d put so much effort into it and then it didn’t even hold any water.


It turns out, that they built this dam in 1959.  Everyone thought it was an engineering feat since it was the largest dam in Italy at the time and so they were all proud of it and super excited about it, except for the people of Longerone (pronounced Long-er-own-ey).  The little town of Longerone was nestled on the other side of this dam, and they knew the area history of landslides.  Everyone told them it would be fine and they put sensors on the dam to warn them of the water rising.  They said that if they kept the water at least 75 ft below the top of the dam that water wouldn’t go over it even in the case of a landslide.

On the night of 8 Oct 1963, the sensors on the dam started going off like crazy.  Apparently all the people in the towns on the other side of the dam evacuated, except the people of Longerone.  I’m not sure why they didn’t leave.  On 9 Oct 1963 there was a massive landslide which sent a huge tidal wave up to the dam.  Water shot 500 ft into the air and went over the dam and over 2000 people in Longerone were killed.  And now there is no water in the dam.

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On the right side of the dam, they built a series of tunnels through the mountain, which are pretty neat.  People were walking in them because there were little look outs all along the tunnel where you could see the dam.  We didn’t get out though.  Maybe next time.

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