Picture: for illustration purposes

Catastrophic Disasters Expose Vulnerabilities and Discontent with Greek State Management

Published September 21, 2023
9 months ago

Gripped by a series of disasters this year, including floods, wildfires, and a fatal train collision, the people of Greece are questioning the reputation of their democratically elected government and state authorities. The series of crises have uncovered potential vulnerabilities in the country's infrastructure and emergency response system.

Matoula Tzela, a bookseller from the village of Palamas, watched as her own business drowned in a meter deep floodwater, rendering her inventory – which ironically would have been sold as the Greek school term began – worthless. Uninsured and laden with debt, Tzela, like many of her fellow Greeks, feels forsaken by an ill-equipped state machinery. Despite immediate warning calls to authorities as the floodwaters surged, the emergency alarm did not sound for another three hours, and her requests for assistance went unanswered.

These systemic delays and ineffective response systems have not only cost property and livelihoods, but they also present a grim potential for loss of lives. Scenes in the surrounding villages of Metamorphosi, Vlohos, Marathea, and Koskina, submerged for days post the storm, reveal a silent yet potent crisis. Local volunteers took the onus upon themselves to rescue stranded villagers, despite the overwhelming emotional toll of witnessing devastation on such a scale.

The drama of rescues from rooftops, by inflatable boats, helicopters, and stubborn tractors only emphasize the pooling frustration against the Greek authorities, who appear to have left many of the rescues to chance, rather than ensuring prepared systems.

Greece’s Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, offered a set of emergency measures and financial aid in an attempt to assuage public anger, but many consider these moves as too little, too late. With each heartbreaking disaster, it is becoming increasingly evident that the real issue impacting Greece is not the lack of resources for those affected in the aftermath, but a deficiency of preparation and prevention avenues.

With every mounting disaster, Greece is facing a loaded question – is their democratic state failing them?

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