The brutality of these events led the Portuguese Government to declare three days of national mourning.
On the 15th of October, the government declared a state of emergency for regions north of the Tejo river and the civil protection described the day as “the worst day of the year in terms of forest fires”.
The Portuguese deaths were in the Coimbra, Guarda, Castelo Branca and Viseu areas. "We went through absolute hell. It was horrible. There was fire everywhere," a resident of Penacova, near Coimbra, was quoted as telling Portuguese RTP radio and TV.
As a result of the fires that took place during these months, roads and schools were closed.
People lost their homes, belongings they have won with lifetime hard work. They lost factories, farms, jobs. Women, men, children and animals lost their families. It was an absolute nightmare.
“Seeing what was happening in my country and feeling completely helpless was terrible. I felt I had to do something, even if it was only a small the difference, I had to try.” said Alexandra Bigotte, who applied for the “Go Social with ESAA” grant in a desperate attempt to make a difference.
The Erasmus+ Student and Alumni Association was not indifferent to the need that Portugal was going through and granted aid through the social grant. Establishing a partnership with the social institution of Coimbra, CASPAE 10, the ESN Alumna was able to acquire materials for the reconstruction of houses and appliances for families in need from one of the affected regions: Oliveira do Hospital. The materials were delivered to the Municipality of this city.
“There is never a way to fully recover what has been lost. But if there was something that I have learnt during my times as an ESN volunteer, it is that the smallest help is precious. For this reason, I only have to thank ESAA and my colleagues from the Social Projects working group, for granting this change.”, Alexandra said.