Athens is still vulnerable to flooding in heavy rainfall

Athens will still be vulnerable to floods, even if all the planned anti-flooding projects are rapidly completed. While major cities abroad are investigating the possibility of removing cement to allow the land to absorb rainwater naturally rather than letting it run off into overloaded drains, Attica is being built up without planning or restrictions, leading ever greater volumes of water to seek an outlet. The lack of infrastructure has made matters worse. According to the Public Works Ministry’s hydraulic engineering projects directorate, work has been done on only 55 percent of Attica’s uncovered streams, while only 60 percent of the 3,000 kilometers of rainwater drains that are needed have been constructed. The Environment Ministry is working on a master plan for anti-flooding protection, budgeted at around half a billion euros. Apart from the work on the Rafina stream, which will cost 130 million euros, the plan includes the coastal rainwater drain in Moschato-Kallithea, completion of anti-flooding work along Poseidonos Avenue, work on the streams of Erasinou, Halandriou, Aghiou Antoniou (in Vrilissia) and Eschatias (at the mouth of the Kifissos) as well as supplementary work on the Saratapotamou stream. Studies are under way for anti-flooding works in Nea Erythraia, Rendi, Tavros, Moschato, Aghia Paraskevi, Salamina, Menidi and Alimos. Next in order of priority is work on the Pikrodafni stream and completion of work on the Erasinou, Ilissou, Aghiou Ioannou and Podonofti streams. While these projects are still being planned, last weekend’s floods caused problems throughout Greece. Thirty villages in the prefecture of Xanthi were cut off when the Kosinthos River broke its banks following heavy downpours which also caused serious problems to water and electricity mains. The worst effects were felt in the prefecture’s Pomak villages, where dozens of houses were flooded, fields became lakes and two sheep folds were washed away by torrential streams. Heavy rains on the weekend also caused problems in Attica. The Fire Brigade received dozens of calls for help pumping water out of basement apartments in Ambelokipi, Ilioupolis, Aghios Dimitrios and Nea Smyrni. Hail fell in downtown Athens and many traffic lights were out of order, creating chaotic traffic conditions. Slippery roads led to numerous accidents, fortunately without casualties.