In the wake of numerous disastrous fires that have destroyed swaths of land and countless homes and businesses in Greece, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) has created a €15 million grant to be used for the recovery effort.
In a statement released on Thursday, SNF thanked all “those on the front lines of the fires— firefighters, volunteers, and people joining together to save neighbors, animals, houses, and whole communities,” calling them the “everyday heroes of a dystopian reality.”
In particular, the SNF honored the memory of Vasilis Filoras, a volunteer videographer who was killed during a freak accident while helping to aid firefighters, and expressed solidarity with all those who “have lost their homes and livelihoods.”
Additionally, the foundation lamented the massive destruction to Greece’s landscape, including “huge forested areas that act as ‘green lungs’ and are home to a diversity of wildlife.”
In order to support those impacted by the fires, SNF will focus its grant on both the “immediate relief efforts” in Greece and to creating “long term firefighting preparedness” in the country.
Multi-million euro SNF grant part of history of providing fire relief, supporting preparedness in Greece
SNF has pledged that it will direct its funds on the advice of “relevant Greek entities” to best serve the communities in need.
The Foundation has a long history of supporting Greece in moments of struggle, particularly in the wake of natural disasters. Over the past 25 years, SNF has created numerous grants aimed at fire relief and prevention in Greece.
Since 1996, SNF has directed nearly €44 million in funds toward firefighting, as the Foundation recognizes “the importance of long-term planning, material assistance, and cooperation across every sector of society.”
A Super Puma firefighting helicopter, which has been integral in the current firefighting effort, having flown 50 hours transporting firefighters and extinguishing flames, was acquired through an SNF grant in 2001.
Additionally, as part of a €25 million SNF grant given to the Hellenic Fire Corps three years ago, “thousands of pieces of essential personal protective equipment” were provided to firefighters and volunteers currently fighting the fires.
The construction of a new training center for the Hellenic Fire Corps in Attica was also included in the grant, but it has not yet been completed.
Greece’s environment will “change drastically” after fires
The environmental devastation from the fires in northern Evia is enormous, according to a statement issued by the meteorological service of the National Observatory of Athens (NOA) on Wednesday evening.
According to the NOA, a total of 126,023 acres (51,000 hectares or 510,000 stremmata) has been burned on the island of Evia from the beginning of the fire until Tuesday.
A very worrying article was published on Wednesday by Efthymios Lekkas, Professor of Dynamic Tectonic Applied Geology & Disaster Management at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.
In his piece, titled ”The environmental footprint of the disaster, a trek to the fire-affected areas,” Professor Lekkas notes that ”this area (Evia) is rapidly moving towards desertification.”
Lekkas claims that the geomorphology of the areas in the Peloponnese and on Evia that are now burned will ”change drastically;” however, he believes that the burned areas in Attica won’t be affected so much and could see only minor changes compared to what they looked like before the blaze.
”The risk of landslides in Northern Evia is increasing dramatically and huge consequences are expected. The same applies to the Peloponnese, to a lesser but measurable extent,” Lekkas wrote.