Snow, cold and no electricity on Ithaca - Day 5 and counting

The weather bureau forecast extreme cold, ice and snow.  They put the fear of God into all of Greece by exclaiming "Siberia is coming". On Ithaca, everyone felt comforted with the thought that extreme weather such as forecast, never usually impacts on the island.  Ithaca has its' own microclimate.  This time the weather bureau got it very right.  All of Greece was hit by the weather coming down from Russia and within hours, there was snow falling all over Greece, even Lefki. Many of the cynical made bets the electricity would fail.  Something dreaded and not altogether out of the question, and as bad luck would have it there were power outs all through the night and then at midnight, total blackness on Ithaca and Cephalonia.

Monday 22nd January - ???? 2006

© Photo by Rien Post

© Photo by Rien Post

© Photo by Rien Post

High winds and snow storms reeked havoc across the island.  People driving north from Vathy were greeted around Hania with snow and wind  not witnessed for decades.  Cars crawled slowly over the icy roads that were quickly being blanketed in a thick cover of snow. Things were looking very bleak.  Snow, wind and no electricity? Not something anyone would welcome.  Most Ithacans went to bed when the power failed to return after the midnight break and most thought whatever the problem, it would most likely be fixed the next morning, weather permitting.

During Winter, Ithaca usually sees some snow around Anoghi, the village high over the island, but when people awoke on the morning of the 22nd, there was a white Ithaca all around, even in the low lying villages towards Frikes. As people went about their business they soon realized that the power may be off longer than the usual few hours, and rumours began to travel across Ithaca that the island may not have electricity for days. Information was impossible to come by.  DEH, the electricity company, wasn't enlightening anyone, the Ithaca Council had no answers and so Ithaca began to go into survival mode, with the main priority being heating and food.

It wasn't long before mobile phone batteries went dead.  Those who realized early on that with no electricity there would be no mobile phone calls, switched off their phones to preserve battery, but many were too busy chopping wood and getting water from the Well, to have time to think of all the complications of this electricity cut.

The wind chilled to the bone, the icy roads made driving and walking dangerous and the Bakery had no bread.  Although it's a wood oven Bakery, the dough is mixed with electricity.  This was a big blow to many on the island.  At least give us our daily bread.

The Council organized Nikos Vasilopoulos from Stavros to clear the road of snow around Lefki. People couldn't believe how much had fallen on the village that faces Cephalonia.

The closer one got to Lefki, the thicker the snow became, and the more dangerous the road

Lefki, usually the warmest village on Ithaca, was snowed in and locals there began to feel the sting of the cold when they woke to no electricity.  Anxiety was rife and was heightened all the more with the lack of information on the power situation. Ithaca isn't prepared for snowy or icy roads.  Cars don't usually have chains in their boots, so passing through, going in or getting out of Lefki was a high anxiety activity as cars slid on the ice, too close to the cliff edge.

The deeper into Lefki, the deeper the snow, and with the freezing temps, the road shimmered with thin ice. Those locals without fireplaces and gas cookers, needed to find alternatives to survive these days, but it was very difficult. The island couldn't cater for the demand on generators and gas heaters, so the waiting list began.  First in, first served. The grapevine reported that Cephalonia would get stocks first. Reports of stolen gas units and generators, from  the hull of the ferry from Patra to Ithaca when the ferry stopped at Cephalonia, had people buying tickets for their purchases for security.

Everyone noted what a shame it was that this 'once in a blue moon' experience of snow in the villages, was tainted with the bitter reality of the power failure. There wasn't time to make snowmen and throw snow balls. The everyday tasks were going to take much more effort and time, and to get through this period, everyone would have to pull together. People smiled, but behind their eyes was the clarity of the predicament all Ithacans had found themselves in on this day. It was taken for granted that we would look after ourselves and DEH would look after the problem of electricity.  It took 2 and a 1/2 days to realize we were the only ones keeping up our end of the bargain.  DEH had totally ignored Ithaca.

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