ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The island of Evia, Greece’s second-largest, has been hit by floods months after devastating forest fires last summer destroyed about a third of its forest cover.
There were no casualties from the heavy rains that hit the northern part of the island, but dozens of residents had to be evacuated from flooded homes, roads became impassable and beaches were filled with mud sliding down from nearby mountains that were now devoid of vegetation.
Officials who inspected the damage announced the government will accelerate a 20 million-euro ($23 million) program to aid the devastated areas, as local officials pleaded for action.
A storm has been buffeting northern and central Greece since Thursday, bringing large amounts of rain. A weather station on Mt. Pelio, on the Greek mainland and close to northern Evia, has recorded 700 mm (27.5 inches) of rain since Thursday, with more expected Sunday night and Monday.
About 300,000 acres of forest, bushes and farmland were burnt in different parts of Greece this past summer amid the country’s worst heat wave in over 30 years. More than a third of the affected area, or about 115,106 acres, was in northern Evia, according to data from Beyond, a research center at the National Observatory of Athens.
Scientists say there’s little doubt climate change from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas is driving extreme events, such as heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods and storms.
Read all AP stories on climate change issues at https://apnews.com/hub/climate-change.