- Title: Tears and anger as Greek island residents face wildfire aftermath
- Date: 13th August 2021
- Summary: ROVIES, EVIA, GREECE (AUGUST 11, 2021) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) RESIDENT ANASTASIA, UNEMPLOYED, 53 YEARS OLD, SAYING: "What can they give me? a loan to pay off? how can I pay it off? With what? I am not working. We made the beehives to have a small income to live from, that is why I came to the village, and they burned down." (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) BAKERY OWNER ZOI CHARASTI, AGED 55, SAYING: "We don't know what to expect now, and we had so much equipment that it is really difficult for us to buy it all again from the beginning, it requires allot of money that we will not receive." PEFKI, EVIA, GREECE (AUGUST 11, 2021) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF SUN GOING DOWN OVER BEACH
- Embargoed: 27th August 2021 15:47
- Keywords: Evia Greece businesses locals wildfires
- Location: ROVIES, EVIA, AND ATHENS, GREECE
- City: ROVIES, EVIA, AND ATHENS, GREECE
- Country: Greece
- Topics: Disaster/Accidents,Europe,Wildfires/Forest Fires,Editors' Choice
- Reuters ID: LVA003EQ45MBR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Residents of the Greek seaside village of Rovies mourn a lost paradise of pristine pine forests and family homes, scorched by wildfires that burned for nine days.
But they are also angry as they start to see how little was salvaged.
The village at the foothills of a mountain, on the island of Evia northeast of Athens, had long been a popular retreat for Greek and foreign tourists, with locals also living off honey, resin and olive oil farming.
Wildfires have turned the forest and beehives into ashes and burned down about a dozen houses in Rovies, those on the outskirts, and dozens more across the island.
One of these homes belonged to 72-year old Costas Constantinidis, a former pastry cook.
"My wife and I worked hard for many years to build this so we could enjoy it in our old age, and now, we must start again from the beginning," Constantinidis said, in tears as he stood in front of his house, much of which was destroyed by flames.
In Rovies, as in other villages across the island, residents said the government failed to protect their homes and the forest.
"The truth is that they forgot about us," 87-year-old Sotiria Kalaboka said. "From the beginning, the airplanes did not come to drop (water), to act."
Thrasyvoulos Kotzias, a beach cafe owner in Pefki, points to his empty beach lounge chairs under umbrellas, saying they would have been fulll of tourists if not for the fires.
"If they had brought the helicopters and the planes immediately and had stayed for six or seven hours straight, the fire would have been put out from the beginning on the first day," he said.
"Everything burned. Our dreams burned, our memories burned, everything, everything. Not even one photograph from my dad's home is left," said fifty-three year old Anastasia as she stood in her gutted family home. She was making a small income from beehives and olive trees. All of that was now ashes.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has publicly apologised for delays in the firefighting effort and announced 500-million-euro ($587 million) relief package, while defending his government's action.
"I want to tell them that I completely understand what they feel, both the pain and the disappointment, and the desperation," he told a news conference on Thursday. "I want to tell them they will not be unassisted, the state will be close to them."
That appeared to offer little comfort to residents of Evia.
"What can they give me? A loan to pay off? How can I pay it off? With what?," said Anastasia.
Zoi Charasti, 55, owned a pastry shop in Rovies and had lived above the shop for the past 38 years. The wildfire burned a big part of her shop after police told her to evacuate. Pastry cakes could be seen blackened in their trays on the counter.
She was overwhelmed by sadness and anger when she returned to see what remained of her shop - burned mixers and ovens.
"We don't know what to expect now, and we had so much equipment that it is really difficult for us to buy it all again from the beginning, it requires a lot of money that we will not receive," she said. "When you build a business over 38 years and watch it turn to ash in half an hour there is no way to describe what I feel, certainly mainly rage."
(Production: Vassilis Triandafyllou, Leon Malherbe, Marco Trujillo, Deborah Kyvrikosaios)
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