Greece's fire-ravaged island racing to prevent flash floods

These workers in Greece are racing against time.

On the island of Evia, volunteers are chopping wood and bolstering defenses before the autumn rains arrive after a summer of wildfires left the area perilously vulnerable to flooding.

Walking on a thick carpet of ash and with the smell of smoke still lingering, they understand the potential danger. "If the weather allows us we will finish, but we are cutting it close,” said Yiannas Georgiou, a local resin collector.

Wildfires ravaged about 300,000 acres of forest and bushland in different parts of Greece this past summer, amid the country's worst heatwave in 30 years. Vegetation which would normally absorb the rainfall has been burnt, and the soil may not be able to stop flooding from reaching coastal villages.

The Mediterranean has become a wildfire hotspot, according to top EU climate experts, who say the summer blaze was a wake-up call for the region. Topographical engineer Stavros Benos has been tasked by the government to rebuild Evia and regrow the forest.

"This country must learn and practice prevention,” said Benos. “Due to the greenhouse gas phenomenon, nature will unfortunately be constantly testing us from now on, because we have done terrible things to it and it is punishing us.”

Meanwhile, in burned woods of Evia, flowers have started to sprout, a sign that the forest will slowly regrow by itself.

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