Evros floodwaters rise

In what is seen as the worst flooding in more than 40 years, more than 30,000 hectares of land in the Evros region were submerged by water yesterday, causing residents to flee their homes. Teams of army and municipal crews are helping with rescue operations in the area as raging waters from the Evros River brought down embankments built to protect houses and farmland. The village of Praggi, close to Didymoteicho on the Greek-Turkish border, was vacated for precautionary reasons, while some 72 homes were flooded in Lavara. Local residents described the flooding as the worst since 1963, while officials said that conditions have reached a critical point. «The situation is getting worse as it goes. As the water level rises, so does our anxiety,» said Lavara Mayor Evangelos Poulilios. Residents in many villages swapped their cars for boats as roads and farming areas disappeared underwater. Volunteers were handing out bottles of water to residents yesterday as drinking water supplies were cut off. The local train network also stopped operating. Along with severe damage to crops, authorities estimate that the toll on livestock is also heavy. Farmers said that stables, many of which still had animals in them, have been swept away by the floodwaters. Heavy rainfall and melting snow are blamed for the flooding along with the entry of massive amounts of water from neighboring Bulgaria. Greece told Bulgaria on Wednesday to limit the amount of water being channeled into the country from its dams. Officials yesterday were optimistic, saying that water from Bulgaria was less and that this could help provide some relief to the Evros River in the coming hours. There was less rainfall in the area yesterday but more is expected today. The wet weather may be causing problems in the Evros region but is also helping to boost water reserves. Authorities said that three of the four reserves that supply Athens with water are currently overflowing. Officials from the Athens Water Company (EYDAP) estimate that there is enough water to supply the capital for the next five years. There are some 1.4 billion cubic meters of water now in storage when Athens’s annual consumption is at about 400 million cubic meters.