By Catherine Tsounis
The plains of Thessaly are the heartland of the farming industry. I saw a fertile area in the middle of August with a Kapogiannis tour. The Breadbasket of Greece. Livestock with soil that could grow anything. A wealthy area created by the farming community’s strong work ethic. A real PARADISE: fertile, affluent with villages that had two story modern homes with balconies. Queens, New York homes were inferior to what I saw in Thessaly August 2023.
A major percentage of the community are the descendants of Greek refugees from Westen Anatolia, Asia Minor of Cappadocia, Black Sea coast of the Pontos, Constantinople and Smyrna. Affluent families who lost wealth and communities during the “Population Exchange” of Greeks and Turkish people, finalized by the Major Powers in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne. Many of the Greek refugees were given land in Thessaly. They created vibrant communities with churches and schools. They educated their children to become professionals, while others used modern techniques to farm their fertile soil.
This paradise, I witnessed in August 2023, was destroyed 3 weeks later by Hurricane Daniel. Magnesia, Karditsa, Larissa and Central Greece was s destroyed by rains, floods, and rising waters of the Pineios river. Palamas, Omorfohori and other villages have vanished under floods and mud. Dimitri Filippidis, radio anchor/international journalist on his September 7th show said, “this is the greatest disaster since the Asia Minor Catastrophe of 1922 that displaced the Greeks of Western Anatolia.”
Dr. Alexios Vardouniotis, Ent surgeon, in Tripoli, Arcadia, explained “in Thessaly there has been a disaster of Biblical proportions…casualties. Really sad especially after the wildfire destruction in the forest of Davia in Thrace (Evros border by Turkey).”
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Our friend, educator Dr Isaak Papadopoulos, lives in Larissa. On Friday afternoon, September 7th, he reported that “the water from the river is approaching our house. Many villages have been destroyed. As of now, eight persons have died. We are on the second floor.” Rising water from Pineios river has stopped . They are able to leave the house, but the streets are flooded. His village of Omorfohori does not exist, covered by mud and floods. Dr. Papadopoulos’ family came from Cappadocia and Constantinople 100 years ago. His wife, Varvara, is a descendant of the Black Sea coast Pontians.
How would you feel if your family’s home in rural America vanished suddenly in water and mud? Livestock and animals are dead, all over the landscape, leading to possible diseases. Dr. Papadopoulos believes “Though the Floodwaters have changed the landscape of our lives, they can never wash away the spirit of our community. We may be scattered, but we remain united in our hearts.” Contact Dr. Isaak Papadopoulos on Facebook.
2023 Greece Fires of forests all over Greece, that I witnessed in July and August, “can lead to drought and floods.” The online site Earth Reminder for Everyone states “Together with their extensive root systems, trees act as a vast sponge soaking in the excess water. However, when a large number of trees are cut down, the root system is destroyed, and there is nothing to soak in the extra water, which flows freely, flooding the entire area. In simple words, Deforestation leads to decreased water holding capability of soil. This causes excessive water flow into the ground, resulting in floods.”1
Major corporations, many who have Greek and Greek Americans in top positions, must mobilize, bring economic, food and pharmaceutical relief directly to the people of Thessaly without loans. It is time for the Diaspora Greeks to save their country, the roots of Western Civilization. Our Deepest Sympathy to the nation of Greece in this national tragedy: the loss of Central Greece to flooding.
All the flooded area photos were taken in Thessaly by Dr. Isaak Papadopoulos.