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Flash floods and Urban flooding in Greece

Vulnerabilities in Greece

One of the most destructive flash floods in recent Greek history occurred in Mandra town (western Attica), approximately 25 km west of the city of Athens, on 15 November 2017. This extreme flash flood event caused 24 fatalities and multiple damages to urban and industrial areas, transportation networks, hydraulic works (e.g., bridges, culverts, closed conduits, etc.) and other technical infrastructures. The entire flooded area encountered heavy mud slides due to severe debris-laden flow (3).

In the Mediterranean most of the floods are caused by intense rainfall in a short time frame (1), making flash flooding the most common type of inundation. On the contrary to the central European rivers the lack of large river networks and regional rains makes regional flooding virtually absent.

The temporal distribution of flood events in Greece between 1880 and 2010 presents a significant increase during the last decades. This is not a trend in natural processes (i.e. climate change) but is due to (2):

  • The increase of population, leading to augmented pressure for urban expansion, sometimes in unacceptable locations increasing in turn the number of individuals and properties at risk.
  • The enhancement of means of reporting and recording disasters through the years (advances in IT technology and media). It is also important that during specific periods such as 1941–1945 (Second World War), poor reporting capabilities and lack of means prevented the community from recording sufficiently flood events.
  • The increased social and media interest in climate related catastrophes in the last decades and the lower tolerance threshold of the society with respect to natural hazards which lead to reporting of events of smaller significance.
  • The increased human interference in hydrological processes, through the expansion of public works, road networks and impervious surfaces, especially near the cities.

However, due to the fact that reporting of floods is related with the damages inflicted, the increase of events is a measure of increase in damages and properties at risk, indicating an increase of flooding interference with human activities. This fact suggests that there is a deteriorating trend in flooding problem in Greece and a need for improvement of the current land use planning (2).


The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for Greece.

  1. Martini and Loat (2007), in: Diakakis et al. (2012)
  2. Diakakis et al. (2012)
  3. Kaffas et al. (2022)