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Snowstorm Response Debacle Bringing Greek Central Disaster Plan 

ATHENS – A snowstorm well predicted but which still caught the New Democracy government unable to deal with it – after summer wildfires revealed similar lapses – has led to plans to coordinate how to deal with natural disasters with a central office.

That’s yet another revamping by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who apologized for drivers being abandoned on a major road during the storm even though he had appointed a Cypriot, Christos Stylianides, to be Minister of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection.

Stylianides also admitted there were failures in dealing with a storm that meteorologists warned several days ahead of time, exposing more shortcomings in the Greek state’s repeated inability to deal with fires, floods and harsh weather.

The government, said Kathimerini, will change how the National Coordination Center for Operations & Crisis Management (ESKEDIK) operates and will create a central coordination center for the management of any risk, disaster or emergency.

That will see coordination between the Hellenic Police (ELAS), the power grid operator DEDDIE, road network concessionaires and all other relevant bodies, the paper said, to be ready for any similar weather-related problems, which has been promised before.

The scheme is aimed at sharing information so that the civil protection mechanism has a complete picture of any evolving situation and can have agencies with different responsibilities knowing what each is doing.

According to the plan, ESKEDIK will operate on different levels, the highest being ministers and including the Prime Minister if necessary although Mitsotakis was largely invisible during the snowstorm.

Scientists will be put to use to evaluate data and set up scenarios of responses and Styliandes, trying to recover from a setback he was brought in to prevent – he’s a former European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management – is working with the University of Athens, the National Technical University of Athens, Democritus University of Thrace and the Geodynamics Institute of the National Observatory of Athens.

There will also be a so-called “war room” with a central operations center overseen by representatives from the varying agencies who will have a set of protocols in place to be implemented depending on the scale of a weather crisis, including earthquakes.

Some 500 staff members will be required for the plan, while the civil protection mechanism currently has a permanent staff of 38, the estimated cost of some 1.7 billion euros ($1.89 billion) to be paid through the National Civil Protection program called Aegis.

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