Friday, 25 February 2011

Further Mayhem in a Winter to Remember

On Wednesday (Feb 23rd) a tornado came in off the sea and hit the village of Gennadi, completely destroying one of the beach-front tavernas (Klimis) and severely damaging the two on either side. mature trees were lifted out of the ground and a "container" which was sitting in a field was lifted up and carried several hundred metres, where it was dropped on to a house, destroying the roof in the process. We frequently see these twisters out across the bay during the winter months, although they seldom if ever approach the coast. This time it was different.

In a winter that's seen the worst flooding in several South Rhodean villages for decades, several incidences of hail, some of which have left cars with dents all over them from hailstones the size of golf-balls, this is just another worry for the over-stretched finances of the local councils.

Check out a series of videos in this link (which is a local TV station based on Rhodes):

If you're planning to come to Greece this summer, please do come, the local economy needs the tourist's cash more than it ever has before! For all the freakish weather that we've experienced this winter, you can still rely on wall-to-wall sunshine during the high season and very little to interrupt it even during the early and late season too.

I spoke to my friend Philip Gareth Anstee of Lardos just this morning. His house it was that my wife and I helped to clean up after they'd been flooded with filthy silty water on January 28th (see THIS POST), and he told me that, with all the heavy rains that we've had on and off during this past week, he and his family aren't sleeping because every few moments, when they hear the downpour outside, they have to get up and peer out in apprehension. Can't imagine the emotional stress they must be under at the moment. He also told me that he had to buy tyres for his car rather unexpectedly while on a trip to town this week. In fact, at 10 o'clock one night recently, we ourselves hit a huge pothole during the road-works that have been going on for three years now further up the island and burst both our nearside tyres. Tyre retail is the business to be in on Rhodes at the moment. When you couple the fact that many of us have to drive along very rough tracks to get to and from our homes, with the state of the road between Kolumbia and Faliraki, it's hardly surprising.

This country continues to suffer from weekly strikes, including the pharmacists - who currently are striking several days each week - as people seem unable to come to terms with the austerity measures which the government is trying to implement. But frankly, the country has precious little alternative, its finances are in that much of a mess. Don't laugh, if you live in the UK or any one of a clutch of other European countries, you've got all this to come, if it hasn't begun already!!

The great assets which this country will always have are it's warm people (on a grass roots level that is) its superb summer climate and its rich history.

Every Greek we talk to agrees that we need the rain. It's just that we'd like it in slightly smaller doses! ...and without the tornadoes.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Feb 2011 Photos

Above is an olive grove in Lardos, just a couple of days after the floods. These yellow flowers proliferate at this time of the year. I'm not sure what they're called in English, but the children love to pick them and suck the stems, as they taste like lemon.

Above is the river-side lane just outside Phil & Vicky's home, which was inundated with muddy floodwater on Friday January 28th. It's hard to imagine from looking at this pastoral scene, that the waters on Jan 28th were a full meter higher than where I'm standing on Tuesday Feb 1st. There's a bit of blurb at the bottom of this post about what happened to Phil [Gareth] and Vicky's home.

"I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK!" Here's my beloved doing what she enjoys most, getting her hands dirty. Whereas many women prefer to sit in cafes with their high-heels on, my other half is much happier getting stuck in. Here she is when we were up in the hills replenishing our wood supplies with the chainsaw recently.

Just after collecting the logs, this is just above Asklipio village, looking up the river valley. 20th January.

These are the scenes the tourists sadly don't see. the citrus groves are so beautiful during winter time.

This is a corner in Asklipio village. In winter time these trees are so beautiful with all their gorgeous orange fruit on them and such a lush green carpet below.

Clicking on any of the images above ought to open it on a new window

February 9th, 2011. Another bright sunny day when it'll reach 21-22ºC in the shade. No clouds to be seen. It's hard to imagine that just a week or two ago it was raining and blowing so much that several villages on this island were declared emergency areas by the island's governing authorities. Lardos, just a few kilometers north us us, had a raging torrent flowing through the middle, which made it impossible to tell exactly where the usual river banks were as homes and businesses were flooded in what resembled a mini-Queensland, some up to a height of two metres.

A couple of friends, Phil (Gareth) Anstee and his wife Vicky, live just metres from the river bank in what is usually a peaceful backwater (another unintentional pun there) on the edge of the village. Their single-story home was inundated with a torrent of muddy river water and Phil actually videoed while the electricity poles came down and their lights went out at dusk a couple of Fridays ago. Then they climbed out through a window and evacuated, leaving their home and all that was in it to its fate.

Here in Kiotari we closed up the windows and brought down the shutter on our front French windows, the ones that afford us a view down the green valley below to the sea about a kilometre and a half away. The log-burner was glowing cozily and we settled in for a night of listening to the buffeting that was going on outside. Next morning dawned bright and with broken cloud. Venturing outside, the worst we suffered was water on our shed floor, which often happens when it rains really hard, which isn't too often if the truth be told. It's just that, when it does, it makes up for lost time! We were blissfully unaware of what had happened just a short distance away from here, in the villages that were set low in valleys, like Lardos, Pilona and Arhangelos.

It was actually the next Monday when Philip called on the phone to tell us what had happened to their house. For some reason or other we'd not heard any local news over the weekend and so we weren't aware of the floods that had wrecked lots of people's homes. Phil was amazed that we hadn't heard, but when he gave us the picture we agreed immediately to go over the next day and spend all day helping with the cleanup operation.

If you want to see just how bad it was in Arhangelos and Lardos villages, check out these links:

Phil & Vicky's house is just a couple of hundred metres up from the bridge in this one: