(AP) – His eyes saddened and his voice marked with pain, Rafael Nadal spoke about the devastation caused by the deadly flooding on the Spanish island of Mallorca.
A torrential rainstorm on Oct. 9 caused flash flooding that left a trail of piled vehicles and damaged infrastructure from surges of water and mud, and killed 13 people. A vehicle carrying a 5-year-old boy and his mother was dragged away by a river of water and mud, claiming both of their lives.
Rafa, who is from Mallorca, knew some of the victims.
“The mother and the son, I know them. They are cousins of one of my best friends. So I lived the situation from very inside and I really saw the drama of all these people looking for the kid,” Rafa said Sunday in Paris, his words measured and his voice tinged with grief. “That’s part of this life and is a very unlucky situation that is almost impossible to recover from.”
Some parts of the island received up to 23 centimeters (nine inches) of rainfall in around four hours, more than one third of the area’s average annual amount.
“The disaster has been just like 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) away from where I live. I was at home and the rain never stopped,” Rafa said. “It was terrible all the things that happened in the village next to my house, and not only one, a few villages — but especially Sant Llorenc.”
A strong current of water and mud buried cars and pulled up trees on its way through the streets of the town of 8,000. Swamped streets and piles of overturned cars, some of them along the guardrails of a major road, were a common sight in Sant Llorenc. There were also victims in Arta, a nearby town, and in the coastal village of S’illot.
Rafa described the huge sense of loss felt within the close-knit community.
“If you were not there, you can’t imagine how the things were inside that village. I have a lot of family there in the village,” Rafa said. “The family from my mother, my grandmother, sisters and all the family from that side are from there. So I have a big connection with all of them.”
Rafa helped residents to clear mud from their houses in Sant Llorenc and his tennis academy on the island offered shelter to people affected by the floods. He wants to continue offering his support. Rafa, who is making his comeback from a knee injury to play at the Paris Masters, said an exhibition event will be held in Mallorca in December to help the people of Sant Llorenc.
“In some way, the only thing that we can do is just try to support them in terms of try to help them to recover all the things that they lost. (For) human losses, there’s nothing to do,” Rafa said. “We are trying to create something to (raise) some money for the people that lost everything in terms of material values, because people who lost life (there) is nothing to do. Things are so sad.”