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Thessaloniki floods: Mayor calls critics “mentally retarded”

Mayor of Thessalonik, Yannis Boutaris called “mentally retarded” critics who mocked the fact that the city was part of “Resilient city Program.” Water- and power outage remain in several parts of the city as locals try to return to normal life.

Large parts of Thessaloniki remain without water and electricity supply, more than 24 hours after torrential rain flooded homes, businesses and public buildings and put lives at risk the city in Northern Greece. Business and home owners spent hours trying to clear their properties from water, mud and debris, many of them worked in the dark.

On Friday, the Water Company (EYATH) representative said they expect the first results of water controls by 5 o’ clock in the afternoon. EYATH has distributed bottled water to kindergartens and schools.

Several schools remained close don Friday because they were flooded.

Making fun of the water outage, some locals went half-naked to the street, armed with shampoo and tooth paste, and started to have a ‘shower’ outdoors.

The Power Company said it was expecting the supply to be restored during the day, noon or afternoon. By 2 pm the power was restored in many areas, although the problem remained mainly in the center of the city. Several electricity lines and substations were damaged by the flood on Thursday.

Accepting only part of the responsibility, the mayor of Thessaloniki, Yannis Boutaris, said the municipality bears no responsibility for the water and the electricity problems or for the streams that were closed by previous local authorities.

He attacked those mocking Thessaloniki as “resili city” (ridiculous city)  saying they were “mentally retarded.” Reason for the outcry was that the city has been integrated into the World Bank “City Resiliency Program” program aiming to assist city governments to build greater resilience to climate and disaster risks.

The mayor said that the city was not “resilient yet.” The 75-year-old mayor spoke of “unprecedented volume of water” stressing he cannot recall such a powerful rainstorm in his entire life.

He underlined that the municipality immediately deployed workers’ teams to remove debris from streets and roads.

The landmark of the city, the White Tower, remained closed in Friday until control checks secure the flood did not cause any damage to power supply system.

The Fire Service received more than 450 calls to pump waters from homes and businesses and to rescue citizens trapped mostly in the flooded streets and roads.

At least five people were swept away by the rushing waters, among them two women and one delivery boy on his motorbike, as shocking videos showed.

When the water entered with force the church of Ypapanti, the four people who were inside rushed to the women’s section on the first floor and waited for help.

Despite the damages, and the distress for thousand of people, irony, humor and sarcasm flooded the social media.

Someone wrote the city main Square “Aristotelous” should apply for the Blue Flag award for  beaches offering high-quality service, or just rename the city to “Greece’s Venice.”

More videos from Thessaloniki floods on Thursday here.

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