Minister Christos Spirtzis: The destruction on the island of Skopelos is very extensive

Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Christos Spirtzis on Thursday said that the first priority for the Aegean island of Skopelos, a popular tourist resort, was to record the flood damage inflicted by the recent devastating rains to public infrastructure and private property.

“The destruction on the island, to both infrastructure and to homes and businesses, is very extensive,” Spirtzis said in statements to the state broadcaster ERT. He noted that the regional authority and municipality must now proceed quickly to record the damage, so that the residents and businesses affected can be quickly helped.

Spirtzis, acting on instructions from Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, arrived on the storm-stricken island accompanied by Alternate Minister for Civil Protection Nikos Toskas, to inspect the damage and determine its extent. He met with local residents and assured islanders that they could count on the state’s swift assistance, noting that heavy machinery was already arriving on the island to repair infrastructure. He also promised to make every effort to “fight the monster of bureaucracy” in dealing with claims for disaster relief.

In talks with local government representatives and other bodies, Spirtzis discussed the causes that, in combination with the extreme weather conditions, resulted in the extensive damage suffered by the island and to draw up a plan of action for repairs.

Spirtzis noted that the weather was only partially to blame since in many cases the affected infrastructure was sub-standard to begin with, including the island’s harbour and roads. He also referred to a “total lack of spatial and town planning” and especially a poor management of water courses, though noting that responsibility for these had to be sought 50-70 years earlier.

According to initial estimates of inspection crews, more than 40 shops and homes have been damaged.