By Peter Michael and Annette Chrysostomou
Mayor of Limassol, Nicos Nicolaides fired back on Friday at criticism that the municipality was absent after heavy rain caused widespread flooding the previous day, leaving many properties damaged.
Nicolaides said the municipality sent 120 workers to deal with the flooding across, the city and it was “impossible for them to be everywhere”.
“During the past two to three days we have been on our feet day and night. Maybe we have not responded to every case, I understand the complaints, but we have worked very hard to prevent the worst,” he said.
Commenting on the flooding, he added the municipality had received funding to conduct structural works, which will deal with problems.
“These works will push the waters north of Limassol’s city centre, which has a problem, so they don’t gather in the southern areas,” he said.
“When we took over in January 2016, we started working very hard together with the sewerage board, works which cost €32 million.” Finishing the projects could take up to two to three years, Nicolaides said.
Larnaca mayor Andreas Vyras said the government needed to do more to stop the flooding. A team needs to be established to protect the people living in each municipality, as there is always a danger of flooding, he added.
Earlier in the day, residents in Limassol were seen trying to repair and protect their houses with sand and other materials. They complained that nobody from the municipality or the mayor himself came to see them to say they were sorry, or to communicate in any way with them and called for works to be started immediately to remedy the problem of flooding, which they say is not a new phenomenon.
On Thursday, dozens of cars were destroyed, the fire department received more than 50 calls to pump water from stores. Flooding and strong winds felled trees and some roads were closed for hours due to the accumulation of water. Car parks turned into lakes and at least one school was flooded. Twenty-six workers were stuck in their place of work as the water exceeded 1.5 metres, blocking the entrance to the building.
On the flip side, the head of the water development department Charalambos Hadjipakkos said the situation regarding the reservoirs was looking good.
Whereas last year at this time they were filled on average at 12.5 per cent of capacity, now they are more than 80 per cent full.
“Nobody knows how the winter will go. October 24 was the best day in October for years, but we will see,” he added.
Met office official Theodoros Hadjigeorgiou forecast the thunderstorms will be back on Saturday and Sunday, when isolated rain and storms are expected around lunchtime. On Monday, all of Cyprus can expect more of the same, all day long.