The weather forecast announced snowfall in Madrid for the end of the week. With the Christmas lights still on the streets, the emergency services warned of a significant drop in temperatures and a situation that could be complicated by snowing in the capital.
On the morning of Friday, January 8, the first flakes began to fall in Madrid. Without further ado, it is common for it to snow at some point in winter. It was clear that a weekend of sofa and blanket awaited us but nothing suggested the magnitude of the storm, which was already hitting Toledo and other towns located in the south of the region.
In the early afternoon the authorities began to analyze the situation, we received calls from the Madrid City Council warning of the severity of the storm and at seven, in Window with Carles Francino, Mayor Almeida, asks, for the first time, the neighbors, to avoid travel and stay at home. Things were getting more complicated than anticipated and at high speed. It was too late.
The snow began to curdle. At nine o’clock at night you could hardly move around Gran Vía or the Plaza de la Independencia. The buses could not leave their headwaters and the first cars were trapped in the main entrance and exit arteries: M30, M40, radial … A long night began. Hundreds and hundreds of drivers were stuck in the snow with the radio company. The storm Filomena had arrived.
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For 24 hours the snow did not stop. La Castellana or Plaza de España became makeshift ski slopes. Aimar Bretos and Roberto Sánchez improvised a program that served as a connection between those trapped and those who had reached their homes, almost miraculously.
It was impossible to reach a hospital, but the emergency teams were also unable to attend deliveries or heart attacks and instructions were transmitted by telephone. “If someone goes into labor, they will have to do it at home, as was done before,” acknowledged a member of SUMMA 112.
The SER maintained during those hours the informative pulse and the commitment with the most up-to-date information. The Radio Madrid newsroom and all the colleagues from the central newsroom took to the streets, buried up to their knees in snow to tell in words what has been part of the history of this city since that day. The biggest snowfall in remembrance in the last 50 years.
Filomena caused serious damage to urban furniture, trees, municipal facilities. There was more will than organization in the street. The City Council made a first exorbitant balance of the amount lost in those hours and although Madrid was declared a catastrophic area, the government, almost a year later, has approved a help of 1.5 million when the initial bill already reduced was almost 280.
We invite you to listen to this sound summary that, as I say, is already part of the precious archive of the SER and of our memory as Madrilenians that one day we will tell that we lived Filomena’s weekend.