More than 20 rivers have burst their banks in Italy, leaving nine people dead and forcing 13,000 from their homes after six months’ rainfall fell in a day and a half.
Almost every river flooded between the north-east coast at Rimini and the city of Bologna, 115km (70 miles) away.
Some 280 landslides took place and more evacuations were ordered overnight.
“It was a very bad 48 hours. Water and mud took over our whole village,” said Roberta Lazzarini, 71.
Her home of Botteghino di Zocca, south of Bologna, was hit by a torrent on Wednesday. Streets, houses and gardens were inundated and Roberta said she was still scared.
“I’ve never seen anything like that here. We were stuck and didn’t know what to do. I just hope it doesn’t happen again.”
Firefighters helped residents flee their houses, including a 97-year-old woman who had to leave her bedroom in a rubber dinghy.
“Our community is broken,” said Roberta’s daughter, Ines, who runs the local cafe in the central square. “We felt completely cut out, isolated, some of us were truly terrified.”
“We’ve had floods before but it has never been this bad as far as I can remember,” said Lamieri, 74, as he removed mud from his basement, where his son stores products to sell at the souvenir shop he runs in central Bologna.
“The street turned into river. We lost all of our stuff which was stored down here. We estimate thousands of euros in damage.”
Antonio Francesco Rizzuto, a 55-year-old lawyer who lives by the river with his wife, was forced to leave on Tuesday night and is now living at his daughter’s in a nearby village.
“It was something no-one was expecting in these proportions,” he said. “Before we left our house, the water level was getting higher by the minute. When we got back yesterday… our living room was completely submerged. We will have to throw away most of our furniture.”