Monday, 28 November 2005

The Flood

I already said it last week: the southern wind was coming and that often brings rain. And warmth. Last Monday we had a night of -2°C, this Monday the quicksilver went up to 20°C. Summer! And this warmth we really needed, because this time the rain was a little too much.

Holland, Germany, Belgium and England got a bad surprise with the cold, storm and snow. Greece, and especially Lesvos, was tortured with rain. It rained and it rained, one full day, two full days and the third day the rain did not yet seem to stop. And now I am not talking about some drizzle or light rain, but without end it rained cats and dogs.

Masses of water fell down. The first days it meant that we stayed inside. It was not cold, the animals all had a roof where they could shelter and anyhow rain was good for the plants. The third day however we felt annoyed not to be able to go out without getting thoroughly wet. And then the messages from the outside world started coming in: The road to Petra was flooded, Mytilini full of water, Kaloni flooded...

When we went for lunch in the afternoon to Anatoli, we could see it with our own eyes on the national television where Lesvos, among some other places in Greece was hot news. The quays of Mytilini looked like one wide river estuary, brown water everywhere flowing into the sea. Kaloni was worse. A brown mass of mud entered houses and shops, in some places 1 metre high! Children panicked when the water invaded their school. They had to take refugee on the first floor. A lot of people got surprised by the rising water.

In the afternoon when on the island the state of emergency became a fact, the rain slowed down and we could drive to Petra. Merry waterfalls dropped down from the mountains and several mud streams still used the road to go down. The Bay of Molyvos as well as that of Petra was coloured brown from the mud and had branches, trees and other stuff all floating around. The harbour of Petra looked like a Tsunami had passed, so many things floated on the water. As well as in Mandamados, in Petra several houses got flooded.

You probably know the sight in Lesvos of all those dry rivers in the summer. Sometimes it is hard to imagine that there will be water streaming through. In the winter there always crawls some water. The masses who sought a way through those rivers this last Friday were probably never seen. The wide river after Kaloni in the direction of Mytilini swole that much that it occupied the main road most of the day and no traffic was possible from or to the capital.

I always wondered why Kaloni had this wide high street in the direction of Skala Kaloni. Now I know why it is such a royal road: they built it above a river. This river could not handle all the water and came up. Not only houses and shops but also many pieces of land got flooded.

Molyvos and Eftalou were lucky. Only some land got flooded and the road next to the bus stop at the school was for some hours under water. The lovely small river next to the road to Vafios became a wild roaring river which overflowed the road as well sometimes.

Now the sun is out again, the temperatures have risen like in summer, mushrooms shoot out of the earth and the people are resettling themselves. In Kaloni and Petra complete furniture, clothing and carpets are sunbathing outside. People clean and scrub, they are not in a good mood.

The day after the flood we took a walk to Molywood, the green part of Molyvos under the Donkey Station where it is full of olive groves. There we could see how the water had behaved. From the mud banks we had to wade through, you could see that only a small river came out of its bed at least 1.5 metres higher. Many roads are damaged or destroyed, many crops on land drowned. No, this winter rain we waited so long for did not make anybody happy.

Copyright © Smitaki 2005

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