Half Mast

Greece is in a state of shock as the forest fires that have plagued the country for several months have escalated into a national disaster with loss of human life on an unprecedented scale. The sheer lack of infrastructure and preparedness has left villages and communities helpless, homes in ruins and livelihoods smouldering embers. During the winter, when it became apparent that the rains had failed for the second successive year and that the fire threat this summer would be worse then usual, various pompous statements were made in the press about how funds were being set aside and measures would be taken but the inadequacies of these measures have become only too appallingly evident in the face of recent events. Arson motivated by loopholes in land laws, poorly maintained forests where scrub and dead vegetation have been allowed to mount up as kindling, funds for firebreaks mouldering in coffers, insufficient water available to put out fires in any kind of scientific fashion… The list is endless. The political finger pointing and accusations are well under way. It is tragic that events have had to take such a dramatic turn to prove that the national habit of procrastination does not work. Just as talking about allocating funds for desalination plants in the Cyclades in January does not put water in the islands six months later, nor does talking about punishing arsonists prevent them from lighting fires. Greece is no stranger to the problem of forest fires but like winter floods the problem is ignored when it is ‘out of season’. With snap elections scheduled for 16 September we can expect a lot more talk but it is the one most likely to deliver the goods and prevent this from ever happening again who is likely to win the votes. Meanwhile, Greece is in a state of mourning, the flags are at half mast – and the fires burn on.


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About this Blog

I sailed into Panormitis Bay, Symi, by chance one windy July day in 1993 and have been here ever since. The locals tell me that this is one of the miracles of St Michael of Panormitis. A BA graduate with majors in English, Philosophy and Classical Civilisation, the idea of living in what is to all intents and purposes an archaeological site appeals to me. Not as small as Kastellorizo, not as touristy as Rhodes, Symi is just the right size. I live on a small holding which my husband and I have reclaimed from a ruin of over-grazing and neglect and turned into a small oasis over the course of the past 22 years. I also work part-time for Symi Visitor Accommodation, helping independent travellers discover and enjoy Symi's simple pleasures for themselves.

This page is kindly sponsored by Wendy Wilcox, Symi Visitor Accommodation.

Adriana Shum

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