Storm Daniel flattens central Greece

Storm Daniel flattens central Greece
A+ A-
Storm Daniel's destructive force exposes the region's vulnerability and sparks fierce debate over prevention and disaster management.

Central Greece is facing unprecedented devastation in the aftermath of Storm Daniel, with the death toll now at seven after the body of a 69-year-old man was found in Volos. He had been reported missing since Thursday night. As the city of Volos mourns, much of the country is grappling with the overwhelming aftermath of this deadly storm.

Heavy rains lashed Greece, turning streams into torrents that have claimed lives and left six people missing. In some areas, the storms dumped twice the average annual rainfall for Athens in just half a day, reported the Kathimerini and other Greek news sources.

Larissa, one of Greece's largest cities, is battling rising floodwaters, with reports of underwater parts. Residents are desperate as they watch the water levels rise "by the minute," according to Larissa's resident Ioanna Gana.

The storms and accompanying flooding have left regions, including Larissa, without electricity or drinking water. Thousands of desperate calls for help flooded the fire department, which rescued over 1,800 people between Tuesday and Friday. In Pelion, residents and tourists had to be evacuated by sea as access roads were cut off. Elsewhere, helicopters were crucial in airlifting 110 people from areas such as Karditsa and Trikala.

The devastation is not confined to Greece. Similar conditions plagued neighboring Bulgaria and Turkey, bringing the combined death toll in the three countries to 18 since Tuesday.

The wrath of Storm Daniel exacerbated pre-existing wounds in the Thessalian Plain, which was previously hit by the Ianos weather front three years ago. As the waters recede in the coming weeks, the true extent of Daniel's destruction will become clear. There are already reports of damage to infrastructure in mountainous areas.

Mitsotakis faces criticism

Criticism is mounting against regional authorities' perceived lack of preparedness, especially since this isn't the region's first tryst with such natural disasters. Residents question the lack of flood protection despite an estimated €400 million allocated for this purpose after Ianos. Many argue that any measures taken have been fragmented and poorly executed.

Considering the widespread damage, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis postponed his scheduled appearance at the 87th Thessaloniki International Fair. The government's focus has shifted entirely to Thessaly, with establishing an operations center in Larissa to ensure better coordination of recovery efforts.

Mitsotakis also assured the affected regions of the government's support. In a meeting with mayors at the Karditsa town hall, he promised to mobilize European resources to provide aid and to ensure damage assessments and compensation for those whose homes were destroyed.

However, the government's handling of the crisis hasn't been free of criticism. Opposition parties have slammed the Mitsotakis government for its lack of preventative action, calling for a unified approach to natural disasters and climate change adaptation.

*Photo source: Kathimerini