With the jury out on whether regional authorities or the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator (DEDDIE) were ultimately responsible for the disruptions caused by the Medea weather system, the government was in a race against time on Wednesday to restore power to almost 40,000 households in Attica, particularly in the northern suburbs but elsewhere too.
To this end, it held successive meetings on the issue with Civil Protection authorities, and in the bid for an immediate restoration of the electricity supply, the army was also recruited, while a mobile operations center, code-named Olympus, was set up in Ekali, northern Athens.
Despite the government’s efforts, it came under fire for the disruptions by SYRIZA and its leader Alexis Tsipras, who decried its response and denounced its decision to close the Athens-Lamia national highway at the height of the snowstorms.
In response, government spokesman Christos Tarantilis recalled that the same road was closed in December 2017 with much less snowfall when SYRIZA was in office. Thousands of people were trapped in their cars, not for a few minutes but for eight hours, he said.
Tarantilis insisted that the government considers that its decision to ban traffic on the Athens-Lamia highway was crucial, as it prevented the possibility of people getting trapped in their cars on the highway.
He added that the decision was backed by the data of the National Meteorological Service (EMY), which showed that the bad weather that hit Attica was the worst since 1983, as it lasted a total of 36 hours and reached an average depth of 20 to 25 points, the highest in 40 years.
Meanwhile, given that most of the problems to the power grid (90%) were caused by falling trees, a public debate raged on Wednesday as to who was ultimately responsible. Several mayors blame power distribution operator DEDDIE, saying that there was never a request for pruning trees located near power lines.
On the other hand, another camp said that the pruning of the trees is the exclusive responsibility of the local authorities and that they should have taken the appropriate actions before the bad weather arrived.
DEDDIE was also accused of not making provisions to strengthen crews in view of the bad weather, owing to which the assistance of the army was needed. But this criticism is also aimed at local authorities that did not proceed to open roads, either central or auxiliary, to facilitate the DEDDIE crews.