At least 18 people have died in Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey in the wake of Storm Daniel – which struck southeast Europe earlier this week.
The storm has also caused sizeable travel disruption. Low-cost airline Jet2 cancelled all flights to and from Skiathos Airport between 5–6 September in response to the storm. The island of Skiathos, located in the Aegean Sea, is a popular summer tourist destination. Flights and ferries from other operators have also been cancelled or delayed across the region.
In an advice document released following the storm, risk management firm Crisis24 also noted that ‘reports indicate that parts of the affected areas are without power, including Agria, Portaria, Tsangarada, the Stagiates villages, and Corfu island’.
The company also warned that: “Sustained heavy rainfall could trigger flooding in low-lying communities near rivers, streams, and creeks. Urban flooding is also possible in developed areas with easily overwhelmed stormwater drainage systems. Sites located downstream from large reservoirs or rivers may be subject to flash flooding after relatively short periods of intense rainfall. Landslides are possible in hilly or mountainous areas, especially where heavy rainfall has saturated the soil.”
The importance of travel protection
Katie Crowe, from travel insurance provider battleface recommended that ‘anyone intending to travel to Greece should check in with their travel provider for updates, and ensure that they have appropriate travel insurance in place’. She noted that flash flooding is currently affecting parts of the country, ‘including the coastal port of Volos and the island of Skiathos’.
“The situation is likely to change very quickly so it’s advisable to check updates on 112 Greece on Twitter for updates as well the FCDO advice for travel to Greece,” she added.
While the rain has begun to ease in most of the region, intense flooding continues to be a problem – on Friday, the Pineios river in central Greece burst its banks near the city of Larissa, triggering evacuations in a number of areas.
Crowe advised: “Travel insurance is absolutely essential when visiting regions prone to natural disasters like the current flash flooding in Greece. While no-one plans for such events, having travel insurance ensures financial protection in case your trip is disrupted or your belongings are damaged.”
Assistance is coming
Agathi Kanellou, Managing Director at assistance management and cost containment firm Medical Claims International (MCI) – who is currently on annual leave in Greece – described her experiences with the floods.
“The plains of Thessaly have received massive amounts of water from neighbouring rivers, which, lacking an outlet to the sea, have inundated towns and villages,” she explained. “Entire villages have been submerged, with water reaching the roofs of houses. The state has responded promptly, but it is not possible to operate at multiple locations simultaneously due to the severity of the adverse weather and the extent of the destruction. The only solution is for residents to stay in two-story homes and for the elderly to be rescued by boats.”
She added that while there are shortages of necessary supplies – water, food, dry clothing – these are slowly being distributed by the government, local authorities, and volunteers. Additionally: “Assistance companies, in collaboration with the authorities … are assisting tourists by providing shelter, and organising their return to their home countries after the ordeal.”