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Festival of the flood in action
TORRENTIAL rain and flooding in Nicosia and Larnaca districts yesterday trapped people in their cars and brought traffic to a standstill as thousands returned home at the end of the three-day, and aptly named, Kataklysmos (Festival of the Flood) weekend.
Some of the worst hit areas were many of the villages between Larnaca and Nicosia, including Lympia, Kornos, Pera Horio, Latsia, Alambra, Ayia Varvara, the GSZ area in Larnaca and Aradippou with some of them also experiencing heavy hail storms.
Drivers on the Larnaca-Nicosia highway crawled along at 30km per hour due to heavy traffic jams and visibility problems, with huge amounts of water gathering in some areas such as the Dekhelia road up to the Rizoelia roundabout.
Some of the more serious incidents included two people that were trapped in a car in Nisou who had to be towed to safety. The suburban area of Geri also suffered a black out for around two hours in the afternoon, after lightning struck an electricity pylon. Lightning caused more havoc in Larnaca when it struck two trees which caught on fire. A coastal road from Oroklini to Pyla was closed for about an hour due to the deluge.
One driver, Maria Andreou, 35, who was heading home out of Nicosia and driving from Orphanides supermarket up to the new General Hospital, saw many cars broken down, their engines flooded by the depth of the water.
“One family had broken down just as they got off the highway in a dangerous place, so they scrambled out of their car, into the puddles and onto one of the islands,” she said.
Tempers ran high in certain areas where one angry and frustrated Nisou resident shouted that she had only been in her house six months and this was the second time it had flooded. Another resident complained that the police and Fire Services had not set foot there.
The Fire Services received about 108 call outs in Larnaca and 158 in Nicosia by yesterday evening either to pump water from flooded basements and homes or to help people who became trapped in their cars from the rain water that had accumulated on the roads. According to Fire Services spokesman, Leonidas Leonidou, no one was in danger at any point and the situation was under control. “At this moment 11 Fire Service crews and a digger belonging to the municipality in Larnaca are working and facing the situation in a satisfactory way,” said Leonidou. “In Nicosia eight Fire Service crews, two civil defence and two district administration crews are working,” added Leonidou.
Police throughout the day urged people to be very careful and also suggested they use the old Larnaca-Nicosia road.
The weather even caused some flight delays with a Cyprus Airways flight from London coming in to land at Larnaca airport, which had to be diverted to Paphos airport, where it remained for about 45 minutes. The landing of another flight, coming in from Athens with Aegean, was delayed too, due to strong winds over Larnaca airport.
Showers and storms are forecast today in the west and north of the island, with the temperature remaining cool for the season at 30 degrees inland, 27 in the west, 29 in the remaining coastal areas and 20 in the mountains. Wednesday is set to start off clear but with rain clouds rolling in by the afternoon in mountainous areas and inland. Thursday will also see clouds form by afternoon with the temperature rising slightly again.