Rainstorm causes havoc

A heavy rainstorm on Sunday night and early yesterday caused extensive problems in southern parts of the capital and outlying areas yesterday, mainly due to insufficient flood planning and illegal building. The national road to Corinth – the main highway linking Athens with the Peloponnese – had to be shut down for hours near the Halyvourgiki steelworks, 20 kilometers west of the capital, as floodwaters covered the tarmac. The road was closed to both north- and south-bound traffic at around 4 a.m. All Athens-bound lanes reopened at 9.15 a.m, while motorists heading for Corinth were restricted to one lane for several more hours. While the national road was closed, drivers were diverted onto the Attiki Odos highway and NATO Avenue. The flooding was due to the absence of a conduit needed to carry water from a nearby streambed under the national road to the sea. The Public Works Ministry hopes to put the project to tender next month. In the Piraeus district of Kokkinia, a total of 28 parked cars were carried away by a raging torrent that coursed down Halkidos Street. Fire brigade officials said this was due to the street having been built over a former streambed that was filled in for development purposes. In the western, outlying area of Dafni, the capital’s largest psychiatric hospital suffered extensive flooding, forcing the relocation of dozens of inmates. During a conference on flood protection in Attica held last week, experts had warned that unchecked development of the area’s farmland and forests, combined with ill-conceived anti-flooding works and poor planning, has multiplied the threat of flooding after heavy rainfall. Apart from the Halyvourgiki area, other danger spots are Rafina, Spata, Glyfada and Voula (due to construction of the new tram network).