The weekend storm saw wind gusts reach a record 72 knots or 133km/h, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat told Parliament on Monday.
He said the storm was the worst to hit Malta since October 1982 although, luckily, no one was injured. In that 1982 storm, which was “characterised by rain,” Dr Muscat said, four people had lost their life.
He said the government was urgently carrying out an assessment of the damage and would seek funds from the EU, if eligible. It would support those affected, without becoming a private insurance.
Dr Muscat thanked all those uniformed personnel and volunteers who had worked long hours to make the roads safe.
In 48 hours, he said, the Civil Protection Department received and assisted in 486 calls. In some cases it was backed by the police and the army.
14 people were evacuated in Sliema and 12 from two localities in Vittoriosa.
The damage was mostly in felled trees, demolished walls, water tanks, PV panels, collapsed roofs and balconies and downed masts and wires.
In 48 hours, personnel collected 155 tons of debris from the streets and another 30 tons would be collected by the end of the day. Most of the work was concentrated on Xemxija, Spinola, Balluta and Ta’ Xbiex promenade.
Over the weekend, Enemalta received more than 2,000 calls of which 987 involved storm damage.
Dr Muscat said there had been no need to move the gas tanker at Delimara.
He said the Water Services Corporation had described damage to the undersea water main between Malta and Gozo as substantial. Repairs will start once the sea is calm.
Help for farmers
Dr Muscat said the government would help farmers who had suffered damages. In this case, state aid rules could be waived because of the particular circumstances. An assistance scheme and a freephone service will be announced in the coming days.
Dr Muscat said an assessment was being made of damage to the infrastructure, which had, however, generally held well.
Particular attention would be given to the state of historical sites, where damage may not be immediately evident but may affect the longevity of the sites.
This storm showed the importance of ongoing maintenance of the infrastructure and its updating. For instance, old poles needed to be replaced and, where possible, cables should be run underground.
Delia thanks rescue and repair crews
Opposition leader Adrian Delia joined the Prime Minister in thanking all those who helped out in the storm, also thanking public-spirited individuals who had also helped clear the streets.
He said the PN was backing the government’s efforts to seek solidarity funds from the EU and said the PN MEPs were already working to this end.
He also backed the government’s commitment to help farmers and said assistance should also be given to Carnival enthusiasts who had also suffered damages.
Replying to questions from a number of MPs, Dr Muscat said that, coincidentally, some weeks ago the government agreed to increase resources for the Civil Protection Department, including building an earthquake-proof compound and outlying facilities for quicker response to emergencies.
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