Our thoughts and prayers go out to the residents of Madeira, the Atlantic island several hundred miles off the African coast, that has long been a popular stop for ships crossing the Atlantic. We've been fortunate to visit Funchal - one of our favorite ports of call - three times on cruises in recent years. The photos on this post were taken during our most recent visit in April 2009.
The BBC and MSNBC tonight are reporting the town of Funchal -- as well as other towns on the island -- were hit today with severe flooding resulting from a rainstorm with unexpected severity. Initial reports are estimating more than 20 persons killed and dozens injured. Their beautifully patterned black and white cobblestone streets are covered with mudslides and overturned cars are strewn about. A witness told the BBC that Funchal is 'a ghost town'.
We know all the cruise enthusiasts who've visited Madeira share our concern for the lovely people who have welcomed us over the years to their postcard-like garden island. We all will continue to monitor the events there with great sadness.