VOLOS, Greece (AP) — A second powerful storm in less than a month hammered parts of central Greece Thursday, sweeping away roads, smashing bridges and flooding thousands of homes.
The storm — called Elias — caused extensive flooding in the central city of Volos and left hundreds stranded in nearby mountain villages. The fire service carried out multiple rescues and evacuations, authorities said. Rescuers were also searching a mountainous area for two people after a private helicopter flying in the bad weather went missing.
“All of Volos has turned into a lake,” Volos Mayor Achilleas Beos told state television. “People’s lives are in danger. Even I remained trapped, and 80% of the city is without power. … I don’t know where God found so much water. It’s like the story of Noah’s Ark.”
Bad weather earlier this month struck the same area, killing 16 people, and causing more than 2 billion euros ($2.1 billion) in damage to farms and infrastructure.
Residents in Volos used plastic buckets to scoop mud out of their homes to try to protect their belongings. Among them was 83-year-old Apostolis Dafereras, who has lived in a suburb of the city since 1955.
“I have never seen anything like this,” Dafereras said, looking out the window of his ground-floor home as knee-high flood water gushed past. Earlier, he and other residents on his street tried to push mud and flood water out of his home.
Authorities said the worst damage was reported around Volos and in northern parts of the nearby island of Evia, an area vulnerable to flooding due to the impact of massive wildfires two years ago. The European Union has promised Greece more than 2 billion euros in financial support to cope with the damage caused by summer wildfires and the ongoing floods, while Athens is renegotiating the terms of other aid packages to direct funds toward climate change adaptation. “Volos has been hit a second time with a storm of lasting duration. ... The state is with those who are struggling,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in Parliament.
“The positive course of the country has been overshadowed by natural disasters that are attacks caused by climate change.”
Gatopoulos reported from Athens.
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