Attica floods show we must end ‘legalised lawlessness,’ Dourou warns

The lessons from the recent lethal floods in West Attica, in which 23 people were killed, was that previous similar floods had done nothing to change attitudes among certain elected officials and citizens and the latest tragedy must finally act as a wake-up call, Attica Region governor Rena Dourou warned on Sunday. Unless the state put a stop to phenomena of “legalised lawlessness” by irresponsible officials, she added, “we will continue to count tragedies, victims and loss of property.”

Dourou made the statements to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) on the sidelines of the 8th Regional Conference for Reconstructing Production in West Attica, during a break in the proceedings taking place at the flood-stricken town of Mandra.

She noted that a flood protection plan for the area – in accordance with a 2007 European Community directive – has been pending since 2012 but was ignored by the governments of that time “because it didn’t concern cuts to wages and pensions.”

According to Dourou, her own administration at the regional authority had taken a different approach and she had often clashed with mayors and municipal authorities who had demanded money for improvements to squares and urban areas, with the regional authority putting priority on flood protection.

She called for fast-track procedures that would allow the necessary licences, tenders and expropriations that often mired such projects to proceed quickly.

The regional governor also noted the role of climate change in the disaster, however, pointing out that the Mandra disaster was partly due to the sheer volume of water falling in a very small area.