The professor of natural disasters spoke to ERT about the disasters caused by floods Kostas Synolakis.
As he said: “The images are truly heartbreaking. These are the images of an extreme disaster. What we don’t know yet is how extreme they are. I’ve read that some say it’s a disaster every thousand years. We can not say that. There were major floods. I would like to remind you that the plain of Thessaly is a plain and that it is so fertile, precisely because it is flooded and it is precisely for this reason that we should have anti-flood measures to cope with the worst cases.
No one could have thought of this particular scenario. This may well be the most extreme scenario ever, but it is equally clear that the existing flood control system could not cope with what happened. And this is also evident by seeing the images transmitted and the various misdeeds that have been committed in various places. »
He went on to say, “We are an unfortified state. We are an unfortified country. In some cases yes, because we do not follow good and good practices. Even in our country, we confuse what research means with what the business and activities of Civil Defense mean. Civil Protection does not yet have the appropriate tools today which are not research tools, they are not tools that various people present themselves and say, but I have them in my laboratory, someone else has them. These are from the European Union, the US weather service has them, the European Union site has them. These are the tools we need to be able to estimate and see. Now you see how fast the water level rises. Information that is lacking at the moment and I think that no one can very well estimate in how many hours, how many days the level will drop. We need this information and this technology exists. »
Mr. Synolakis commented: “In civil protection, I believe they use a European Union system, which, however, cannot make the real-time forecasts that we currently need. For now, what we mainly need is to see in how many hours the level will drop. As well as what we need to know as the water level rises. In Pinio, in Larissa, in Karditsa, in Palamas, how quickly it would rise.
We don’t have this information, we rely on certain scenarios that exist and we see. We rely on civil protection and they may see some storms, but they don’t currently have the ability to make real-time estimates and know how quickly the waters will rise. This is what we need and it’s not a research problem. Civil Protection must understand this and develop these capabilities. It is the business of the State, it is the business of the EMY and Civil Protection.
Look at why these phenomena, what we see, no one wants, obviously no one wants to see. And the worst part is that we don’t know when we’ll see him again. With Janos, they came back and they said that the storm lasted 100 years, some said 500 years. In fact, we’ve seen her within three years. So that was not the case. This was obviously not a storm that lasts 500 to 100 years, when a worse storm repeats itself in three years. »
Furthermore, Mr. Synolakis said: “The scariest thing is precisely because we know that with climate change we will see that extreme events will become more extreme in intensity, more frequent and last longer. This is precisely why we cannot rely on outmoded mindsets. At some point, Civil Protection in these areas is the same as in real-time fires. To see how a fire evolves, what scenarios exist in real time, within the Civil Protection, to know what is happening. It’s the same with floods. »
In other parts of his statements, Mr. Synolakis emphasized that: “I had a very interesting conversation about the cost to the economy. The longer it takes, the more we can do. You see today that heroic efforts have been made to make the bed of the Pinios river, to demolish some dikes so that it floods upstream, which means above Larissa flood there, so that the flood does not reach Larissa. Once there, we must understand that you know something. we are not doing well in the long term and as I repeat, there must be a complete separation between Civil Protection and the EMY which are operational and work with what the universities, research centers and all the others do. stay. And the Civil Protection must develop these capacities.
I mean, you know, I’m one of the people, one of the first to talk about it 112 and even though we have 112, too many people say we did it, because I’ve been calling it since 2018 and I’ve pushed too hard. I believe it’s something similar. We have now reached the next step and the next step is not only to have the leave – stay warning, but we have to know the quantitative part, in how many hours we have to leave, in what hours the flood will happen, how long hours, days”.
He then said: “Look at number 112. You have seen that, to a large extent, it saves lives. We have had tragic deaths. It is a must see. If they could have been avoided, that is to say, after a great tragedy, we must do what was done, do an autopsy, see, understand what was done well and what was not. not been done. I repeat that we cannot continue three years after Janus and not have quantitative estimates in too many areas of Civil Protection. Ask them, they will tell you yes, we have all five ten kilometers in some scenarios, no, I want for this particular storm that I have now, for this storm, I want to know what is going to happen in ten hours, in 12 hours, in 24 hours. And these tools exist and it’s a question and at some point Civil Protection must adopt them.”
Regarding the question of whether it is easy to evacuate the Thessaly plain, he pointed out that: “In 2014, in Chile, one and a half million people were evacuated due to the tsunami in about 45 minutes. So it’s done. The challenge, however, is not to evacuate the entire plain of Thessaly. This is exactly why we need targeted information and knowledge. Let Civil Protection know which areas should be evacuated immediately, which should be evacuated more quickly, which should be evacuated later, or which should still not be evacuated. In other cases, Civil Protection should be indicated. Climb you don’t have time Climb to climb as high as possible because you don’t have time to leave with your cars. In other cases, when we have time, 112 can say that you are going to leave, go that way.”
Also regarding evacuation messages, he emphasized: “At least you know you have to leave, which is way more than the 115 people burned on Maui who had no warning. A fire was coming and they didn’t had no warning or siren. We had to wait 45 minutes later for social networks to announce the closure of a road. But what happens next is just as necessary. That is to say, have targeted evacuations. Yes, we conquered it in 112 and you also saw in Spain that it does not exist. Now that 112 has started to be implemented in Greece, it was implemented before France and that is a problem because some people worked very, very hard to get 112 implemented. But now we’re in the next part.”
Mr Synolakis said: “One of the things scientists say about the consequences of climate change is precisely that our lives will be degraded. This is not a mass extinction, as happened with the dinosaurs, nor is it a possibility of this happening if we do nothing. But anyway, we are not talking about a mass extinction. »
Regarding aerial vehicles, he said: “You know, one thing that we have in Greece that we have to overcome is this very strange and old-fashioned relationship with helicopters, with airplanes. Here we still don’t, we haven’t managed to get seaplanes in Greece, we have helicopters from where I know and I understand that. I get it from everyone, from all the media. Every time a helicopter comes out, say helicopter rescue! How exotic, how improbable! How incredible! No, it’s routine elsewhere. So we need to address this part of helicopter rescue. It must be routine. It’s the. This is our shared climate future. And if we want to save people, we want many more tools at the political level.
A consensus that does not exist. In other words, every time something happens, a crime, a tragedy. Indeed, all of this is happening. We have lost people, but on the other hand, the question is also that of the proposal, the consensus or the alliance, because this is a national objective. I think we agree on that, that this is a national effort. This tragedy, this mourning that we are experiencing and experiencing is a national mourning, it is a national tragedy. It has no blue, green, yellow or red. »