Natural disasters: the truth behind the recent floods in Athens

by Christos Panagopoulos –

The last days of October were meant to be very cold and extremely rainy; a sudden bout of heavy rainus flooded, in only a few hours, Athens’s west suburbs, leaving behind citizens lamenting for their properties.

Stores full of water, basements covered in mud and cars washed away by the torrential water.

It is a fact, Athens was built with no specific plan, leading to an inadmissible urban sprawl. Natural streams were covered in concrete, sewers’ gullies stuffed with dry leaves and litter.

This matter sets once more under question the responsibilities held by the regional Greek authorities, as well as those held by the water companies. What have they done so far?

Why, even in the year 2014, Greek authorities continue to act and react so slowly against natural disasters?

Surely, it is not the workers to blame; once more, it is a matter of bad management.

For instance, in my neighborhood, which is located in the city’s heart, there used to be an old stream coming from a small hill in Galatsi, jettisoning its eflluvia downwards ending in a smaller stream that united with the Kifissos River.

Through the years, urban sprawl has made the normal course of water to vanish. Nowadays, each time the rain starts pouring, asphalt vanishes in only a few minutes under the torrential waters coming down from the hill.

The sewers are not capable of accepting so big an amount of liquid. This is how the problem starts, but this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Taking a closer look in some streets, for example in the southern part of Attica, there are no sewers, so the reader can imagine what happens with a sudden thunderstorm.

In my opinion, it is time the Greek state made provisions about elementary matters such as public works and civil protection.

Reflexes must become more vivid and effective. The sudden return of Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras, to Greece, to “pull the ear” of those officials, who didn’t do their work properly, is just an excuse.

Provisions are needed to be made. In other words, a proper prevention plan is needed.

Otherwise, in the not so distant future, improvisation towards natural disaster might prove dangerous and in some cases fatal.

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