As catastrophic flooding from record rainfall continues to devastate communities across central Greece, there remain occasional bright spots. One such example is the tiny village of Keramidi, nestled against the foothills near Trikala in the Thessaly region. With just 325 residents according to the last census, and around 200 tidy stone homes laid out in a meticulously planned grid, Keramidi borders a small creek that feeds into the mighty Pinios River, eventually emptying into the Aegean Sea.

The name Keramidi translates to “roof tile” in Greek, and the orderly pattern of streets and houses reflects citizens who valued organization and planning over haphazard development. This foresight crucially translated into lifesaving preparations against flooding, as residents banded together decades ago to construct an earthen levee, raised higher than the expected worst-case creek levels, to encircle and protect their community. Following common practice, they paved the top to create a dry roadway and public gathering space.

Keramidi - Greek Village Spared from Disaster by Foresight and Preparation 2

While torrential rains turned roads into rivers and transformed so many other towns into devastated lakes, Keramidi’s citizens stayed safe and dry, having invested considerable resources to shield their village. Their carefully engineered levee held back the violent floodwaters that had seemed an existential threat. As climate change brings more frequent extreme weather to the region, communities across Greece and worldwide must learn from Keramidi’s example – preparedness and precaution are essential.

Now, as the floodwaters slowly recede across the broader region and relief efforts struggle to reach remoter areas, Keramidi stands as a testament to human ingenuity and foresight in the face of natural disasters. By banding together and taking preventative action years in advance, this tiny village of a few hundred residents warded off catastrophe against all odds. Their story provides a flicker of hope amidst the chaos, demonstrating that even small communities can make an enormous difference with proper planning and investment to protect their future.