Neighbourhood solidarity against the storm in Madrid
Citizens, alienated from political fights, get involved to face Storm Filomena
Madrid"I've heard on TV that you can go and collect salt", says the manager of a bar on Calle Pintor Rosales in Madrid to a colleague with whom he plans to remove the snow from the premises' entrance. On streets you can see neighbors with shovels that follow the instructions that in recent hours the mayor of the Spanish capital, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, and the president of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, have given; they have asked for citizen collaboration in this new phase of Storm Filomena. Temperatures are dropping, and the authorities are afraid of frost.
Almeida has assured that they are considering declaring the Spanish capital a disaster area after the historic snowfall of the last 48 hours. The forecasts exceeded what had been expected, as recognized by the Ministers of Home Affairs and Transport, Fernando Grande-Marlaska and José Luis Ábalos. Filomena has not escaped the political struggle and this Saturday Podemos asked for Ayuso's resignation and the PP reproaches the president of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez, for the delay in taking charge of the situation. It was not until this Sunday that he presided over the State Committee for the Coordination and Management of the National Civil Protection System.
Sanchez has called for cooperation between administrations, but citizens are getting mixed messages. While PP leaders in the autonomous community and the mayor's office are calling for initiative from the people to remove the snow, the Spanish government delegate, José Manuel Franco, has said that the citizens have a "right" to do so and has called for it to be done with "common sense, prudence and responsibility". Meanwhile, unaware of the political struggle, neighbors and workers have organized themselves to face the storm, especially regarding the most critical infrastructures such as hospitals.
Solidarity and collaboration
Many health professionals have had to double their shifts because they could not reach or leave health centres, whose accesses were blocked. Even now there are difficulties in entering or exiting hospitals, as the Community of Madrid recognizes, and many of those that have been freed up is thanks to the contribution of the workers themselves. In Gregorio Marañón, where José works as a nurse, associations in the Retiro district such as the Hacenderas cultural association and the Los Pinos neighbourhood association have helped to clean up the entrance. José explains to the ARA that he began his shift on Friday night and, fortunately for him, he has not had to double his shift because his relays left home hours early to get to the hospital in time.
In different hospitals, telegram groups have been created in which workers have offered to transport patients, and other volunteers with 4x4s have made themselves available to help. One of the initiatives that has been set up is called SOS 4x4 Madrid. The regional government recognizes that quick intervention vehicles (RIVs) and ICUs have difficulties with snow. Social networks have been key and several districts have chosen to encourage neighbourhood cooperation, as it already happened during the first wave of the coronavirus.