Yuki Tsunoda described his “terrifying” experience after being caught in Faenza, which was ravaged by flooding last week.
The Scuderia AlphaTauri driver lives in a town about 15 km from Imola in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.
“I think everyone was excited about the Imola Grand Prix, especially our home Grand Prix,” said Tsunoda.
“All the people of Faenza and Imola were excited, but at the same time we had a massive storm last night, well I would say consistently for three days, and most of the city where I live in Faenza was completely flooded. Just mud everywhere, covered in mud, probably 70 percent or more
In the vicinity of Faenza, the water level rose several meters, sweeping away cars and destroying houses.
As conditions improved, photos of Tsunoda circulated on social media as he and thousands of others helped clean up.
Heaps of furniture, electrical appliances and other items damaged by the muddy flood waters lined the streets.
Last week’s flooding was the result of the second major downpour this month.
“As much as 7-8 times higher than the reference climate average in the same month,” according to an analysis by the CIMA Research Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on natural disaster risk reduction.
“I was just keeping safe at night when the rain was coming,” Tsunoda said of his experience.
“I was worried because the electricity in my house was regularly cut off.
“So I was a bit worried, but luckily my house was on the bay.
“The next day when I went to town, there was just mud everywhere.
“The one-story houses were already covered with mud and water.
“It really had a huge impact on us and yes, those were really terrible, terrible nights.”
More than 31,000 people have been displaced by the floods and at least 14 people have died.
“I’ve only seen it on TV maybe, and I never expected things like this, that scary things would really happen in front of me,” Tsunoda said when asked if he’d ever seen anything like it.
“But suddenly it happened in front of me, just this completely different feeling than what I was watching on TV, I was so scared.
“Just constantly worrying about the ground floor.
“Fortunately, I have a second floor, so I lived on the second floor all the time.
“Helicopters were also flying around and I could tell they were already starting to help people from houses already flooded (flooded).
“Just constantly knowing it’s happening, it’s very scary.”