NEWS

Snowstorm hits Athens

Greece’s state machinery was mobilized yesterday to cope, as much as it could, with the serious problems caused by a wave of snow, rainstorms, frost and strong winds sweeping over most of Greece – especially Attica, central and western Greece. It was the heaviest snowfall in Attica in a decade and disrupted traffic across the province and in many parts of Athens. The Civil Defense Agency was on full alert and military units were mobilized to help out with troops, tracked vehicles and snow-moving equipment. Transportation across the country was seriously disrupted, with all passenger ships confined to port and all national highways linking Athens to the rest of country closed by snow. Airports were open but the weather caused many delays. Snow fell in the center of Athens for the first time in a decade. Conditions are expected to remain the same today and tomorrow, with the temperature expected to drop to -5C in Attica. According to the National Meteorological Service, temperatures will remain low for the next week but without snowfall. There was chaos on national roads when snow, ice and stalled vehicles blocked the highways leading from Athens to Corinth and the main north-south highway. Scores of motorists were stranded last night as the worsening weather hit the road network, from Evros province in northeastern Greece to Crete in the south. Athens was particularly hard hit, with even the major ring road of Katehaki Avenue being closed because of the snow, trapping motorists for hours. Only vehicles with chains on their tires could get to the northern suburbs. Now, unused to the value of our currency, we will count out every cent and demand that we receive each one due, forgetting the largess with which we would round off drachmas to the nearest hundred. Maybe we should judge the value of our new money by that most ancient of currencies, a day’s work. The Social Security Foundation (IKA) sets the minimum daily wage for an unskilled, unmarried laborer at 6,830 drachmas, or 20.04 euros. My grandfather, telling me once how good things are in Greece today, once reminisced that when he was young most of the day’s wage would go toward paying for a loaf of bread, and that it would take months of savings to buy a pair of boots. «Today, with one day’s pay you can buy bread for the whole village and with two days’ work you can buy the best boots. And you can’t find anyone to do any work,» he said.