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Athens Snowstorm Makes Life in the Suburbs a Misery

Athens snowstorm
An impassable street in the northern Athenian suburb of Vrilissia. Credit: Greek Reporter

The snowstorm that hit Athens on Monday has brought misery to the millions of inhabitants of the Greek capital as the streets in most neighborhoods remain impassable more than 48 hours after the event.

The volume of snow was such that in some cases it literally covered cars and motorcycles, while some of the packed-down snow has now became ice, turning the passage of pedestrians along the sidewalks into a dangerous venture.

Authorities in Attica have admitted that their efforts are focusing on clearing snow from the main streets at the present. As a result, the narrow streets in the suburban neighborhoods are still completely snowbound.

Macabre scene as bearers attempt to carry casket through the snow and ice

An especially disturbing scene was witnessed in Zografou on Wednesday, where funeral workers attempted to carry a casket with a dead body inside to a funeral home. Simply unable to carry it normally, on a wheeled cart, they had no choice but to resort to pushing the casket atop the snow — and even then, they had a hard time maneuvering in the packed-down snow and slush.

The situation appeared near-apocalyptic, but the workers did their absolute best, eventually managing to heft the casket into the hearse.

Roads in many part of Athens still impassable

Suburbs such as Kaisariani, Ilisia, Zografou, Vyronas, Alimos, Ilioupoli, and especially northern Athenian suburbs such as Holargos, Penteli, Agia Paraskevi, and Kifissia, continue to face acute problems with citizens trapped in their homes.

In the suburb of Vrilissia, for example, there has been no sight of any municipal snowplows that could help residents begin to venture out to their jobs and take care of needed errands.

At the same time, the frost and ice that has formed due to the continued extremely low temperatures makes walking perilous. Municipalities have been appealing to the residents to be especially careful to avoid accidents.

Fallen trees in Athens add to chaos

Athens snowstorm
A tree fallen from the weight of the snow blocks a road in Vrilissia. Nothing whatsoever has been done to remove it in the last 48 hours. Credit: Greek Reporter

Another problem caused by the severe weather was the downing of many trees that could not withstand the weight of the snow. Many power lines were destroyed and several areas around Athens are still in blackout conditions.

According to an announcement by the municipality of Athens, the areas where problems are still observed on small roads are at Ano Kypseli, Polygono, Neapoli and the borders of Pagrati with Vyron.

The municipality says that emphasis is being placed on the streets leading to the hospitals.

Sections of the Attiki Odos still closed

Sections of the Attiki Odos, the ring road of Athens, remain closed, more than 48 hours since the snowstorm that had thousands of people trapped in the cars for hours.

Athens snowstorm
The Fire Service struggles to remove abandoned vehicles from Attiki Odos. Credit: Greek Reporter

According to an announcement by Attiki Odos, traffic in the direction from the Airport to central Athens is not yet possible due to the many vehicles that are abandoned in the highway.

Access from the Airport to Athens will be either through Lavriou Avenue or through Vari – Koropi Avenue as of Wednesday evening.

The company is appealing to drivers that abandoned their cars to go and collect them.

Public and private sectors return to work after a two-day lockdown

Tuesday and Wednesday were declared emergency holidays, to allow authorities to restore damage from the snowstorm ‘Elpis’ and transportation to return to normal.

The public sector is returning to work on Thursday but the interior ministry has recommended that public-sector staff work remotely wherever possible.

All employees whose jobs cannot be done remotely have been asked to make their way to their jobs with due caution, even to arrive later if necessary, while the absence of employees who cannot work remotely and cannot get to work due to the snow will be considered justified.

The above does not apply to staff in critical services, whose job is directly or indirectly linked to managing the repercussions of the weather conditions.

The ministry recommended that private sector businesses make the most use of remote working possible when staff returns to work as of Thursday.

“This recommendation mostly concerns businesses that made extensive use of remote working during the previous days,” it said in a statement on Wednesday.


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