Flooding in Greece 2023 – dealing with the consequences

Powódź w Grecji 2023 – walka ze skutkami

The first days of September brought devastating and severe flooding to Greece. Only the oldest residents of the region can remember such intense downpours – the last time rains of similar intensity hit the country was in 1930. Several thousand people have been evacuated as a result of the floods, and the death toll from the disaster stands at 15 at this point. What will it look like to combat the effects of the elements and help the stricken Greece, and what can the European Union offer it?

Flooding in Greece – Hurricane Daniel to blame

The flooding in Greece was directly caused by Hurricane Daniel, which began its devastating effects on September 5. The central part of the country, Thessaly, has been most affected. Among the hardest hit are the port cities of Volos, Karditsa and Trikali.

Flooding in Greece has caused destruction on a massive scale. Not only bridges and roads were affected, but also residential homes, schools, businesses and agricultural crops. Many thousands of people were trapped in hotels and apartments. The authorities assisted in their evacuation.

Deadly toll of Greek disaster

Flooding in Greece has claimed the lives of 15 people, two are still considered missing. The balance of casualties may unfortunately increase.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, quoted by Reuters, stresses that Greece’s priority “is to heal the serious wounds left by the disaster.” Given the scale of the devastation, it is impossible for the Mediterranean island nation to cope with the effects of the disaster on its own.

Flooding in Greece did not spare tourists either

Although many tourists choose the most popular islands or the area around Athens as their destination, according to media reports, the calamity also affected visitors vacationing in flooded areas. Travelers are stranded on the flooded island of Skiathos, among other places, often without the help of accommodation hosts or airlines. Many of them are waiting for a flight back home without specific assistance.

Flooding in Greece
Photo source: Copernicus Sentinel-2

Fighting the effects of floods – the European Union will help

Reuters reports that the European Union is expected to join the fight against the devastating element. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to work out the details of transferring additional funds to deal with the effects of the floods. The EU representative acknowledged that Greece could receive up to €2.25 billion, and that further support, in response to the Greek request, would be possible under the solidarity fund. With the approval of all members, the Community could transfer up to an additional 400 million euros.

The Greek prime minister confirmed that his priority is not only for residents to return to their homes, but also for businesses to resume operations. He expressed hope that this would be possible with the support of the Union.

Europe facing the costs of climate change

The Greek prime minister also pointed out that the flooding in Greece is another climate change disaster. He called on Europe to increase spending to help countries cope with extreme weather events. It is worth recalling that before the extreme rainfall, Greece was hit by record fires.

At this point, the EU’s Solidarity and Emergency Aid Reserve, designed to support European countries in situations of this kind, has a limited budget. The maximum reserve is €1.2 billion per year. However, the European Commission points out that the EU needs more money to respond to crises like the unexpected flooding in Greece. Especially given that the increased frequency of extreme weather events caused by climate change has depleted the emergency aid reserve in 2021 and 2022.

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