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Storm Filomena: Spain declares Madrid and 7 other regions disaster zones as flood warning issued

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Madrid has been fighting to clear wpiles of garbage and thousands of broken trees from the streets following Storm Filomena.
Madrid has been fighting to clear wpiles of garbage and thousands of broken trees from the streets following Storm Filomena.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Bernat Armangue
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Spain's government has declared eight regions, including the capital Madrid, as disaster zones following the snowfall and cold temperatures brought by Storm Filomena.

The Council of Ministers announced on Tuesday that the community of Madrid, Andalusia, Aragon, Asturias, Castile-La Mancha, Castile and Leon, Navarre, and La Rioja were considered "areas seriously affected by a Civil Protection Emergency".

The announcement means emergency subsidies and other support measures will be provided to the communities.

Finance Minister María Jesús Montero said that although the damage had not yet been precisely quantified, the decision had been taken to speed up the processing of the aid procedures and avoid delays.

Storm Filomena brought the heaviest snowfall to Spain in decades, felling thousands of trees and cutting off supplies to Madrid.

The city's government has estimated that Filomena caused at least €1.4 billion euros in damage, a figure disputed by opposition parties.

Meanwhile, refuse collection trucks took several days to clear the streets of rubbish after the storm, leaving waste piled up throughout the city, overflowing public and household bins.

A cleanup effort involving thousands of police, firefighters, and military personnel has been underway in Madrid, as public transport has resumed and schools also due to reopen this week.

Spain's Interior Ministry has stated that a full assessment of the effects of the storm was still being carried out alongside government delegations, autonomous communities, and local bodies affected.

But the emergency declaration will provide financial aid and compensation for material damage to homes, as well as to industrial and commercial services.

The announcement also came as the Madrid regional government warned that further rains in the region on Wednesday were likely to bring floods.

"The rains forecast ... although moderate, may cause flooding when all the frozen snow begins to melt," the regional government said in a statement, adding that "intense" wind temperatures in the capital could reach 40 km/h.

"This decision is intended to warn the various administrations as well as citizens who may be affected".

On Saturday, the Community of Madrid began asking town councils and road maintenance services to clear drains and sewers to allow thawed water to flow from the streets.

Spain's Ecology Minister Teresa Ribera also stated that the country's Civil Protection agency will be "very attentive" to the flow of the rivers in the area amid the risk of flooding.