Animal breeders in central Greece lost over 50,000 animals in the floods, while the surviving flocks face an urgent shortage of animal feed, farmers said in Thessaly.
According to early estimates, nearly 100,000 young animals drowned in the floods of Thessaly and parts of Central Greece, central to Greek agricultural and livestock economy.
Yiannis Kokouras, mayor of Tyrnavos near Larissa, told the Praktoreio FM 104.9 radio of the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA) that the livestock breeders in the area managed to save 25,000 sheep that are roaming in unpenned areas and are facing severe issues in feed. “We managed to stop the (flood) waters at five meters in front of the first houses in Ambelonas and Vryotopos,” he said, but the town known for its cheese, wine, and tsipuro remains isolated since roads to major supply city Larissa, in the north-northwest, are still inaccessible. The only road leading away from Tyrnavos is north, leading to Elassona and Kozani and a long way around to Larissa.
“Large livestock units were destroyed, and it is unfortunately the time of productive process – sheep are now starting to give birth,” Kokouras said. “Therefore, they need immediately animal feed and spaces to be transferred to. They are now held within parks and areas in Ambelons. They don’t know where to take them. Some livestock associations from other regions responded and sent us [feed], and we are trying to buy also. But 25,000 sheep are a lot – we have as many sheep as we do people, in our township,” he underlined, stressing that “animals that survived the floods are facing death by starvation.”
In addition, vineyard owners cannot access their land, a lot of which are under water, and it is now grape-collecting season, while the wastewater-processing plant went out of order as the water is two meters high.
In equally key production center Elassona, the storm and floods did not destroy everything, National Association of Livestock Breeders secretary general Nikos Palaskas told ANA-MPA radio “Praktoreio”. Compared to the rest of Thessaly, “which underwent total destrcution, we barely survived,” he said. “We are now threatened by infections from the dead animals. Unfortunately, the process of collecting them is taking a long time. It is very difficult to approach the livestock units still under water, and wherever animals have survived, they throw animal feed down by air,” the farming official said.
The bodies of the dead animals have reached the sea at Platamonas, in the Macedonian coast, he added, “and it is unknown what people will face when the waters receded. Unfortunately, there’s no return” from the destruction, he said. He added that the government measures for those affected by the extreme weather are not enough.
“To buy 1,000 animals, you need 250,000 euros. To build a livestock unit to you need at least 1 million euros. The assistance of 5,000-6,000 euros is not enough even for a week’s animal feed. Whoever has animals that survived will have to face the winter, and those who lost them will replace them with difficulty,” Palaskas added.