Torrential rain on Crete this weekend has caused millions in damage and cost the lives of at least one person. Picturesque seaside villages in Heraklion Prefecture, favorite vacation and recreation spots for locals and tourists look like warzones this morning. Other towns and villages across Greece’s biggest island were also affected.
[Update 10:24 am 10/16] The missing woman, who was the work colleague of a man drowned at Agia Pelagia, has been found dead as well. She and the driver of the auto, locals who worked in the village, were swept into a deep drainage culvert by the bay. Rescuers found her body a few moments ago. Each of the victims had two children, according to villagers.
Severe weather warnings for this weekend from Greece’s national weather service proved prophetic on Saturday when vast amounts of rain were dumped in Heraklion in a short period of time. The international airport was closed over flooding of runways, but hardest hit three idyllic seaside villages east of the city. Agia Pelagia, neighboring Lygaria, and Palaiokastro were inundated as flash flooding ripped through the resort towns.
Agia Pelagia, a popular resort built on the location of an ancient sunken city, was hardest hit. All three villages lie at the foot of steep hillsides in gorges that end in idyllic bays. Today, storefronts, streets, vacation rentals, and private homes are ripped up by powerful torrents to wash cars and trucks downhill and into the sea.
I spoke briefly yesterday with Vangelis Koutoumanos, a local friend who works with Heraklion municipality at Agia Pelagia and Palaiokastro. Like most Heraklion residents, Vangelis frequents Agia Pelagia and has many friends there. The bay, and the surrounding beaches, are probably the most popular in the region. We chatted about mutual friends who own shops and other businesses in the villages and about two victims of the catastrophic deluge.
Images and video of cars being washed into Agia Pelagia Bay yesterday stunned local residents, who collectively called for prayers for their friends who live in these areas. At least one man drowned as his car was swept underwater, and he became trapped.
We’re told that his work colleague, a local woman, is still missing. The two, it seems, were in the Agia Pelagia to do housekeeping on vacation property there when the sudden flooding swept their car into a drainage pit at the seafront. Each of these locals had two children.
What was a picture postcard bay, one of the most idyllic resorts in Greece, reminds us of biblical horror. In Chania Prefecture, in the far west of the island, heavy rains caused damage and chaos, as well.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by these storms. We will update here when support, rescue, and other news become available.