European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen met with local residents in Cesena on Thursday following last week’s devastating floods.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pledged her support to Italy on Thursday during a helicopter tour of the Emilia Romagna region hit by last week’s floods.

“In the coming weeks, when we have managed to make an overall assessment of the damage caused by the flood, we will also make an application for the activation of the Solidarity Fund, which is provided for emergencies and natural disasters,” said the Italian Prime Minister. Minister Giorgia Meloni who accompanied the President of the Commission.

“Unfortunately, this is a fund that Italy has had access to on other occasions, but I think it was also important that President von der Leyen saw with his own eyes the scale of the problem and the diversity of problems we are dealing with,” he continued she. .

The flooding last week claimed at least 15 lives. Twenty-one rivers overflowed their banks and at least 300 landslides were triggered by a heavy concentration of rainfall, which could not be absorbed by terrain that had been parched from a lack of rain for weeks.

“It’s heartbreaking to see it, to see the floods, the water, the land under water, covered in water, but also to see the mud. And these deep scars of the many, many landslides,” von der Leyen added.

“So it was really helpful to see from above the mind with the damage and the devastation and also the very different problems that it causes. Emilia-Romagna has a long history, rich history, so it’s all the more painful to see the depth of the destruction and devastation in this region is.

“So basically I am here to send a clear message, and that is ‘L’Europa è con voi’ (Europe is by your side).”.

Together with the regional president Stefano Bonaccini and the provincial mayor Enzo Lattuca, the president visited the areas most affected by the floods and met some of the rescue workers and residents.

The Italian government on Tuesday approved more than two billion euros in aid to the flood-hit region, including farmers and entrepreneurs in one of the country’s most productive regions.

The government envisions raising the price of entrance tickets to state museums by one euro ($1.1), Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said. The money would be earmarked to help pay for repairs to damaged cultural institutions.

Meloni told reporters that the aid approved at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday included the suspension of tax payments, as well as utility bills for the coming months. Mortgage payments in areas deemed disaster areas will also be suspended.

“In the situation that Italy is in, it is not easy to find 2 billion euros in a few days,” Meloni said.

She mentioned many of the categories receiving support, including education, where laptops had to be bought for students unable to reach schools due to the flooding.

For workers temporarily left unemployed due to farms and businesses being destroyed or left inaccessible, around 580 million euros were allocated.

Emilia-Romagna Governor Stefano Bonaccini, who flanked Meloni at the news conference, expressed thanks for the quick approval of the aid, but noted that the region “has wounds and will have them for a while.”

“There are people who have lost everything, or who have lost almost everything,” Bonaccini said.

Other sectors, such as the important agricultural sector of the region’s economy, known for its production of fruit, honey, wheat, pork and poultry, are still counting losses.

Among the heavily damaged areas were also many seaside resorts along the Adriatic Sea, a stretch of coast that is very popular with tourists from Italy and northern Europe.