Heavy rain spurs Attica floods

Hours of heavy rainfall yesterday flooded hundreds of homes and stores across Attica and caused widespread problems on roads. The northwestern suburbs were the worst hit, particularly Zephyri, Menidi, Thracomakedones and Ano Liosia. There was also damage to homes at the foot of Mount Parnitha. Brief power cuts also occurred in the northern and eastern suburbs. The fire service received about 500 calls to pump out flooded basements and to rescue drivers from cars submerged in rivers of water up to 1 meter deep. Firemen on Salamina, off the coast of Athens, had to rescue several vehicles after the roads around the island’s port were transformed into streams. They even had to enlist the use of a crane to remove a stranded ambulance. The ambulance eventually reached the local hospital without any harm befalling its patient. The masses of debris and garbage cluttering rivers and lack of anti-flood works exacerbated yesterday’s flooding, according to the general secretary of the Secretariat for Civil Protection, Panayiotis Fourlas. And the lack of adequate drainage networks worsened the situation in Ano Liosia and Menidi. Zephyri Mayor Fotini Yiannopoulou blamed a lack of funding from the Environment and Public Works Ministry for the extent of local floods. «We have been waiting for money to clean up our local stream for two years now,» she told Kathimerini. «If it had been cleaned, we would not have suffered this damage,» she said. In Menidi, local authorities blamed the lack of adequate drainage for the flooding of hundreds of basement homes and stores. In many neighborhoods of Menidi, a working-class district, some 80 percent of homes were flooded, officials told Kathimerini. Some 100 firemen and 35 fire engines remained on standby in the area last night. The extent of the damage caused by rainfall elsewhere in the country was unclear yesterday. But a hailstorm in the northern prefecture of Imathia damaged tens of hectares of cotton, wheat and beets as well as peach and citrus trees. According to the National Meteorological Service, there will be more rain today with a slight improvement expected over the weekend.