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Greece: Fire-Hit Evia Races to Fix Damage Before Next Storm

ATHENS — Authorities on the Greek island of Evia said Monday that more than 200 homes were damaged by weekend flooding, with most of the affected areas left unprotected in the wake of huge summer wildfires. 

The floods also damaged roads in the north of the island, and also caused damage on nearby areas of the central Greek mainland. Authorities are racing to clear the damage, using earthmovers to clear riverbed blockages, before more severe weather expected later this week. 

Evia was the area hardest hit by wildfires in August and early September that damaged more than 1,000 square kilometers (390 square miles) of mostly forestland in Greece. More than 20 countries sent firefighters, water-dropping planes, and other equipment to Greece to help contain the worst fires in more than a decade. 

A government team visited the fire-ravaged areas of Vassilika and Agia Anna, in northern Evia, which were affected by the heavy rainfall during the weekend, in order to inspect the damage.

Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister in charge of state aid and recovery from natural disasters, Christos Triantopoulos, Deputy Minister of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection, Evangelos Tournas, and Deputy Minister of Rural Development, Simos Kedikoglou participated in the government team.

"The state, as in other cases, will be by the side of the people affected and will assist in the restoration of these damages," Triantopoulos underlined, adding that emergency funding, totalling 20 million euros, will be directed to northern Evia on Monday or Tuesday, in addition to the maturation of the plan regarding interventions to be done following the August fires.

"Evia a 'picture of destruction and complete abandonment"

"What we are seeing here in northern Evia after the fires of the summer and the floods on the day before yesterday is a picture of destruction and complete abandonment," main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance Secretary Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said on Monday, in a statement to television crews while touring flood-stricken areas of the island at the head of a party delegation.

He noted that no flood protection works had been carried out, or even planned, with the government opting for a "supposed comprehensive intervention" that essential abandoned the entire area to its fate.

"In reality, the water coming down the mountain as a result of the destructive fires had nowhere to go and tore down everything in its path," Tzanakopoulos said, accusing the government of abandoning Evia "both operationally and politically" and focusing exclusively on promoting business deals for exploiting the regions for purposes other than those of its residents or what was in their interests.

"We will continue our inspection of the entire area, because the further up one goes, the worse things get. The beaches have been ruined, property has been destroyed in circumstances that were considered not merely possible but a given," he added.

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