Major effort under way after floods in Serres

Local authorities, residents and members of the armed forces in Serres, northern Greece, worked together on Monday in an effort to limit the damage caused by the Strymonas River, which broke its banks on Sunday, flooding thousands of hectares of farmland.

The floodwaters wrecked dams and flood defenses, according to local officials, who said the structures were unable to withstand the rising water level, which reached 36.36 meters.

According to Agni Douvitsa, the mayor of Visaltia, one of the hardest-hit areas, some 500 cubic meters of water per second was gushing into local Lake Kerkini. Authorities have been on standby for the possible flooding of Lake Kerkini after the Strymonas, which flows from Bulgaria, broke its banks over the weekend.

“The flooding is constant,” Douvitsa told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency. “The water is destroying whatever is in its way,” she said, noting that large swaths of farmland have been destroyed. “And the worst is yet to come.”

The mayor said that local authorities had closed off all country roads and had blocked access to the worst affected areas to ensure people’s safety. “Because if the volume of water increases even further, then we’ll lose them,” he said.

The regional vice governor of Serres, Yiannis Moisiadis, said authorities were now focusing on protecting villages, farms and workshops. He estimated the regional flood damage at around 7,000 hectares. Moisiadis is due in Athens on Tuesday for talks with Alternate Minister for Agricultural Development Vangelis Apostolou for talks on the impact of the floods.

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