November 21st, 2017

Rain at last as vicious storms lash the island

The Heavens opened over Cyprus yesterday providing much-needed water to the parched land and empty reservoirs, while also flooding roads, houses and highways, and leaving some drivers trapped in their cars.

Limassol was by far the worst hit, with the Fire Service answering over 100 calls for help. Heavy rainfall poured over the coastal town from the morning until midday. The emergency services were called out to pump water from flooded basements, shops and houses.Fire Service spokesperson Eliza Kimichi said the Service worked in cooperation with around 20 crews from the Limassol municipality and Civil Defence to respond to urgent calls.

The main roundabouts of Limassol suffered huge traffic problems with dozens of drivers trapped in their cars as a result of flooding at the Linopetra roundabout.

The roundabout area turned into a mini-lake, trapping oncoming cars. The road was closed until 5pm yesterday while the emergency services tried pumping the water out.

Limassol's central thoroughfare, Makarios Avenue, and the coastal roads also experienced problems due to the heavy rainfall. Communications and electricity supplies both experienced cuts for a short period of time, while inoperative traffic lights added to the traffic confusion.

"Limassol was given priority during the day, while the less urgent calls will be answered throughout the night," said Kimichi yesterday.

The incessant rainfall also caused the Garylis River to burst its banks, though the large collection of rubbish dumped in the river bed played a great part in it overflowing.

One Limassol man told the state broadcaster that the rubbish had caused it to overflow, which in turn, flooded his own house, as well as shops.

"This phenomenon exists. The rivers are full of rubbish and the drainage system too," said Kimichi.

"This is what creates problems where you see roads flooding easily because the drainage is not clear. The water can't escape and with sadness I say it happens to houses too. We had five houses in Limassol suffer serious damage because of water flowing in," she added.

Larnaca also had its fair share of the storm, with a flash whirlwind wreaking havoc on the Palm Tree Promenade (Finikoudes). Within moments a tall column of spinning air crossed over the area, knocking down large umbrellas, chairs and tables laid out by the numerous cafés on the street. One flying object flew straight at a car, shattering the window.

At one point, a mother and child almost got caught up in the violent whirlwind until a fast-thinking café owner ran over and took them to safety.

The storm proved too much for the Larnaca Municipality's Christmas tree which suffered a fall in the chaos.

Meanwhile, the greatest rainfall in the Larnaca district fell in Xylotympou, where the building of socialist party EDEK collapsed as a result.

The party's offices/coffee house has been a mainstay of the village for the past 30 years. But yesterday, the rain proved too much for it as an adjacent building site flooded, causing it to collapse. Luckily, the coffee shop owner Vakis Andreas had left the building 10 minutes earlier.

Nicosia had a lighter time of it, witnessing rainfall and enough hail stones to make the roads look white, but few floods. Paphos too, was less affected by the turn in weather, though unconfirmed reports of snowing in Peyiea did come in.

Head of the Meteorological Service Kyriacos Theophilou said yesterday the storms would continue into the night and throughout today.

"We are expecting lots of clouds and rain, and some light snow in the mountainous regions" he said.

The wet weather is expected to continue tomorrow, clearing up though for Christmas Day, which will likely see low temperatures but drier weather.

Source:  Cyprus-Mail