The safety of Famagusta residents is a priority, Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said during his emergency visit to the district on Saturday after heavy rain flooded houses and businesses in the area.
In total 16 crews from various services were active in the area, rescuing 35 people who got trapped on the flooded roads and towing over 60 vehicles.
To address the situation, Nouris held an emergency meeting with the Paralimni mayor and representatives from the police, fire service and civil defence.
“It is an extremely local phenomenon,” the minister said, adding that the meteorological service had said the rain would subside later in the afternoon. “We hope… it will allow both the water to move towards the sea and of course the services to be more active.”
He said the main problem was recorded in Paralimni and urged people to avoid unnecessary travel there. A similar warning was issued by police earlier, with a list of dangerous roads in Paralimni, Protaras and Ayia Napa.
Meanwhile, photos circulating online showed the sea off Protaras turned red due to water run off from the soil in an “unprecedented” phenomenon.
At this time, the personal safety of citizens is paramount, Nouris noted. He highlighted that 16 crews from all services will remain in the area.
So far, the fire service received over 200 calls for assistance.
Special firefighting unit Emak was called in the area to assist with rescue efforts. “I hope we will deal with the phenomena,” the minister said, thanking all the services involved.
Regarding the damage to houses and hotels, the minister said the municipalities of Ayia Napa and Paralimni will carry out an assessment soon, while at least one school was affected according to photographs on social media.
But the damage could have been much worse if anti-flooding works had not been carried out in previous years, Nouris and Paralimni Mayor Theodoros Pyrillis said.
The mayor said this was a “difficult day” and thanked the minister who immediately responded to the situation.
“Coordination is needed” to address the consequences of these adverse weather conditions, Pyrillis said. Efforts are focused in the area near the third primary school, he said, to prevent houses from being flooded.
Paralimni municipality is in the process of completing the stormwater master plan, a €7 million project funded by the EU cohesion fund which will start in 2023.
Main roads including the Protaras-Cape Greco avenue from Kapparis until the Pernera area and Ayios Panteleimonas road until Kammitsi traffic lights had been closed with police saying they were dangerous.
Elsewhere, water also had accumulated in roads in the mountainous area of Larnaca and Nicosia. The Larnaca-Ayia Napa motorway was also affected.
Due to snowfall, the roads leading to Troodos, where snow reached 17 cm, were only open to four-wheel drive cars or vehicles equipped with snow chains.
Low temperatures will persist until Tuesday, meteorological officer Nicolina Koutsofti told the Cyprus News Agency, with a gradual rise in temperature expected by mid week.
Έντονες βροχοπτώσεις ⛈κ πλημμυρισμένοι δρόμοι σήμερα στην επαρχία Αμμοχώστου. Η Αστυνομία επί ποδός με άλλες αρμόδιες υπηρεσίες, προσφέρουν βοήθεια σε όσους το έχουν ανάγκη. Έκκληση στους κατοίκους της περιοχής, να περιορίσουν τις μετακινήσεις τους στις απολύτως απαραίτητες. pic.twitter.com/PPKo3eNTTc
— Αστυνομία Κύπρου (@Cyprus_Police) January 14, 2023