By Aggelos Skordas
One day after the deadly flash flooding that claimed at least 16 lives and left hundreds homeless, with more than 500 homes and businesses severely damaged by the heavy rainfall, residents of Mandra and Nea Peramos where Wednesday’s superstorm was centered are voicing their despair and request the State’s rapid reaction. At the same time, the number of those declared missing has risen to six with rescue teams and firemen working constantly to bring in some good news after two days of destruction.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras visited Mandra on Thursday, before departing for Sweden, where he is scheduled to attend the European Union social summit. He announced that the government will quickly assist the households and businesses affected by the floods. “It is our commitment to proceed with the immediate reconstruction work, healing of wounds and restoration of property, whether it concerns households or businesses”, he said exiting a meeting in the offices of the regional operation center in Elefsina, in the western outskirts of Athens. “We are all shocked with what we saw. Obviously this is a rare and extreme weather phenomenon. However, this extreme phenomenon worked the way it did because of the accumulated inertia, the accumulated problems and the lack in infrastructure projects, but also in the town planning”, he added.
The meeting -attended by Minister of Interior Panos Skourletis, Alternate Minister of Citizen Protection and Public Order Nikos Toskas, Regional Governor of Attica Rena Dourou and Chief Commander of the Hellenic Fire Service Vasilis Kapelios- focused primarily on reconstruction of the flood stricken areas, but it was also noted that similar construction problems that led to the disaster in Western Attica can also be tracked in other regions of the country.
The streets of Nea Peramos and Mandra remain blocked by debris, crumpled cars and mud, while large areas remained without electricity and water all night. Those who have lost their homes and belongings are planned to be temporarily accommodated in Armed Forces’ facilities. Besides, after communicating with the Minister of Maritime Affairs Panagiotis Kouroumblis, Optimum Shipmanagement Services offered cruise ship “Aegean Queen” for the accommodation of the flood hit citizens of Mandra and Nea Peramos. The “Aegean Queen” has a capacity of 914 beds in 364 cabins.
Aerophotographs and video footage taken minutes after the storm hit the two towns show the devastating effects of the disaster, while bad weather continued throughout Thursday with meteorologists warning of yet another wave of heavy rainfall. According to forecasts, bad weather conditions will continue through to Saturday. For precaution reasons all schools in the capital region of Attica, in the islands of Aegina, Zakynthos, Kefalonia and Ithaca will remain closed on Friday and Traffic Police have sealed off streets that are not considered safe for drivers since Thursday night.
The President of Albania Ilir Meta on Thursday sent a message to his Greek counterpart Prokopis Pavlopoulos expressing his deep sorrow for the lives lost by the floods. “Hoping that there will be no other victims in the flood-hit areas, please allow me to express the most heartfelt and sincere condolences to the relatives and loved ones of the victims. I assure you that in these difficult moments of despair, I and the Albanian people stand by the citizens affected by the flood”, Meta’s message reads.