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  Nr. 57 - March 2003
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State of Emergency

by Bob Barratt & Trudy Petridi, March 2003
Following some of the most devastating storms in 100 years, with torrential rain on Monday 17th February causing catastrophic flooding, a state of emergency was declared in eight of the Cycladic islands (Paros, Naxos, Tinos, Andros, Sifnos, Mykonos, Serifos and Syros). According to the newspaper Kathimerini, on Paros more rain fell in 20 hours (200 mm) than during an entire average year! Severe weather conditions throughout Greece caused many villages to be cut off as roads were blocked by snow, schools were closed and people and cars were stranded. The total current estimate of storm damage throughout the country amounts to 600 million euros.

All the islands have suffered extensive damage to property, roads and farmland. Private gardens have been washed away; crops, vines and trees have been lost. Farms close to riverbeds lost their livestock of goats, sheep and chickens.

Many roads disappeared under the force of the flowing water, others were left littered with flood debris of large boulders and mud. The roads between Punta-Aliki and Aliki-Angeria as well as parts of the beach were severely eroded. The tarmac surface on some roads was literally swept away in the flood waters and landslides also blocked roads until bulldozers organized by the local authorities worked to re-open the road network. Main roads quickly became functional again, albeit severely damaged. All dirt roads were destroyed and were mostly completely impassable.

The island's water and sewage systems were badly damaged, but a short-term temporary solution was put into operation, though longer-term permanent repair work needs to be done.

Aggravating the situation were problems with electricity and the telephone network in the days following the disastrous flooding, as well as brutally cold temperatures, sleet and snow which contributed to everyones' misery.

As the local authorities begin the damage assessment together with a team from the Public Works Ministry, they have already registered 20 houses that need to be completely rebuilt, between 100-200 homes that were flooded losing all their household goods, and millions of euros of damage to shops.

In Paroikia, whole areas where we are normally used to walking or driving turned into rivers and lakes, swamping the surrounding buildings and pouring water into shop premises and basements. In Naoussa many businesses were destroyed, roads crumbled and the bridge collapsed.

Many of our advertisers and friends have been victims of substantial losses in their businesses. Panda Clean, for example, has lost thousands of euros worth of goods that had been stored in the basement ready for this year. Businesses located on the ringroad (peripheriako) in Paroikia were among the worst hit - The Paros Pet Shop, Computer House, Styl and others.

The army is being called in at the beginning of March to help with emergency repairs of the road network, the sewage and water systems.

As well as some emergency government funds made available to the islands, a scheme for compensation is promised. Those who have incurred losses should call 22840-24912 with full details so that an assessment team can come to evaluate damages and calculate appropriate compensation.

Many thanks to Mr Triantafillou at the Town Hall for his help with this article and we wish "kouragio" to our new Mayor as he has to deal with such a huge catastrophe so early in his term of office. He is certainly to be congratulated for his swift action and organizational skills so far in this time of crisis.

Let's hope that the terrible weather is now behind us for this year and that we will have some more Spring-like weather to celebrate the next days of Carnival period.
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