December 6, 2023

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They were “suffocated” and abandoned

They were “suffocated” and abandoned

My return to the Thessalian plain was to confirm the prevailing opinion that the Greek state was powerless to protect its subjects. Almost paralyzed. exaggeration; not at all. Paralyzed. I visited the villages of Larissa, Palamas and Vlohos, where the water reached and sometimes covered the roofs of the houses. In Larissa, two affected areas are Gianoli and Hippocrates.

From the videos, you will see the desperation and anguish of the people beyond the scale of the destruction. To struggle with the mud a fortnight after the flood, to wonder how their lives have been destroyed, to live next to tons of stuff, decaying objects, the smell of death and mud. Their vision is blank, a passing echelon to document the damage, waiting for trucks to move the volume of damaged goods from their homes. Mattresses and furniture cannot move three times their weight through water and mud. How difficult is it for the region, the municipality, the military to transport all this within a week, to place an order for ten trucks? Damages should be registered quickly for staff positions from all over Greece.

Yanauli housing estates in Larissa – where residents are still waiting for ladders – littered the streets with piles of rubbish from takeaways.
Yiannouli Housing Estates – Residents struggle to save their newly built properties

To break the eternal gaze of employees in offices – sanctuaries that do not exist to release frustrated people! Four thousand in words, practically not a euro after all these days! The housewives in the workhouses have tears in their eyes and pain on their faces. Those words that break hearts through nothingness and the words of a woman: “After the death on the cross perhaps the resurrection will come”!.. Palamas – Vlochos. An outdoor kitchen run by volunteers, not the military or any organization. Soldiers posted there are also fed from the volunteer kitchen! Contradictory things. I approach them. They welcome me with smiles and happiness. “We asked the channels to show the origin and they answered us that they are not on the topic agenda now”!.. There are these little heroes-volunteers. They are from Thessaloniki. From the city that still has a soul.

A military kitchen from the former East Germany with volunteers in Palamas Corditsa

Despina Kaviri is a young woman coordinator of the humanitarian work of the “Act of Love” organization. A private initiative organization that exists only from citizen contributions (no government subsidies) and was created several years ago by a Ukrainian from Thessaloniki. Giorgos Iliadis, president of the Military Historical Vehicles Association (SISA), along with another volunteer-amateur, brought a refurbished PEO, a military ambulance and a former East German military kitchen to distribute 500 meals a day. Apostolos Tjikas waved his big spoon proudly, boasting that their kitchen had a double chamber of glycerine to evenly boil the beans. Seven tons of goods were delivered to the flood affected people by these little heroes.

From food, water and drug stacks to car batteries. In Vlohos, a village submerged in mud from the waters of the surrounding Enipea and Kalentzi rivers, the situation is desperate. A woman in a white uniform and mask covered in mud. “I came from the Netherlands where I live to help my old father. I can’t take it any more. I have no other authority. We are alone”!

Rushing from the Netherlands to help his father in Vlohos – a food distribution center at a cafe in Palamas – he describes devastation and abandonment.

As I bid them farewell, volunteer Apostolis’ bean salad began to smell musky, masking the scent of death and abandonment from a momentary absence and paralysis. I started my return journey, and as I watched the sun set over the Thessalian Campos, I opened the window and shouted, “Get lost, you workaholic face!” I don’t care who asked. Birds for sure.

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Tons of garbage in Campos villages
The corns are already rotting in the flooded Gumbo – the image of agricultural crops is heartbreaking
“Stay on your mobile” services tell flood victims – Ippokrates Larisa Businesses destroyed, people scrambling to salvage what they can from the flood themselves – No ladders arrive to record damage
Residents’ complaints to Larissa’s Hippocrates about unbuilt flood protection works – the same program that plains watchers complain to all who ordered flood prevention interventions and promised infrastructure projects over the past decade.
Magis Triantafillopoulos describes the situation in Campos Corditsa two weeks after the disaster – a large landfill outside Palamas.
Pinos Dam Collapses in Giannoli Region of Larissa – Pinos Dam in Giannouli and Hippocrates Region of Larissa has collapsed and all flooded.