Destructive Rains in Crete – October and November 2006
The autumn rains in October and November were destructive in Crete. The first damage was noted in the Apokoronas area, specifically Almirida and Kalives. In Almirida, roads were washed away, hotels flooded and a 54-year-old Briton, a local resident, was drowned when he tried to drive through a rushing stream. The torrential waters swept him away, he hit his head and body on the rocks, and his body was discovered next day in Almirida harbour, 3.5 km from the point where rescue teams had found his car.
The cause of the damage was primarily the torrential rain, but also the fact that people have filled in local dry riverbeds and built houses in them, with the result that the water destroys everything in its way to the sea. Even the municipal parking lot and many roads had been built in dry riverbeds. The Mayor himself, Mr Pandelis Karayannakis, stressed that, “You just can’t build hotels in a river estuary, or hotel basements below sea level”.
Two weeks later, at the beginning of November, heavy rainfall caused great destruction once more, this time in central and southeast Crete. In the municipalities of Rouvas and Zaros, torrential rain caused extensive damage to the road network, crops and shops and the water supply to entire villages. It is estimated that 1,000 kilos of trout and salmon were lost from the fish farms in the lake, while the rainwater gushed into houses and shops causing huge damage. The district road from Panassos to Gergeri was turned into a bomb site by massive rockfalls. At some points the rocks, wood and gravel swept down by the rain formed mounds seven metres high. The municipal departments of Panassos, Zaros and Moroni were left without running water for several hours with only mud coming from the taps, while many domestic livestock were swept away in the torrent.
The damage to the Monastery of St Nikolaos in Zaros was also incalculable, as the rushing water swept right through the monastery destroying everything in its path. The fury of nature struck the monastery mercilessly, as the monks risked their lives in a vain attempt to save what remained. Nothing was left standing in cells and stores, stables and yards. The torrential waters flattened the iron gate, which was carried away along with other objects and dozens of domestic livestock unable to escape the whirl of destruction.
There was also extensive damage to the road network, houses and greenhouses in Arvi and Psari Forada in Viannos municipality. 700-1,000 hectares of open-air tomato crops and 8,000-9,000 hectares of cucumbers, peppers and bananas were completely destroyed. Four cars were swept away by the river in Psari Forada and wedged under the bridge. The river rose and the floodwaters filled the basements and ground-floor rooms of houses and shops alike.
- Read about the Weather in Crete, a month-by-month description of the normal weather conditions in Crete