Greek-Americans watch in horror as fires rage through homeland
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As uncontrolled wildfires raged across much of Greece this weekend, killing dozens and destroying homes and villages, Vasilios Flionis watched, horrified, from his home in Marlborough.
Flionis, a priest at Sts. Anargyroi Church in Marlborough, Monday said he expects other area Greek Orthodox churches to begin collecting money for relief efforts in the coming days.
``Things are very upsetting,'' he said. ``I was just watching the news from Greece, it's just pathetic, it's just pathetic.”
Flionis is just one of dozens of MetroWest Greeks who has been closely watching news reports on the fires, and hoping for an end to the unprecedented destruction.
``It's very tragic,'' said Andy Karpouzis, president of Framingham-based Karpouzis & Sons Commercial Refrigeration. ``It's a catastrophe, I can't describe it. This is something that has never happened before, it's a one-of-a-kind catastrophe for over 250 years.''
Though common during the country's hot, dry summers, the recent fires - nearly 100 broke out between Sunday morning and Monday morning, according to reports - have been unprecedented in scale.
Fueled by high winds and dry grass and trees, the fires have swept through many villages, claiming more than 60 lives.
For Karpouzis, who returned last week from a vacation to the Greek island of Kos, the destruction is unimaginable.
Already, he said, his Greek Orthodox church in Roslindale has begun collecting money for relief efforts.
``I believe all the communities, they're going to try to help, and restore the people back to normal,'' he said. ``It's hard to see things like that. We are hoping the U.S. will put something together and help out with some kind of relief fund to help these people out.''
For many in the Greek community, the shock of the disaster is still too new to think about rebuilding, said Dimitri Georgakopoulos, parish president of St. Demetrius Church in Weston.
``I think we're still in the stage of shock and disbelief,'' Georgakopoulos said. ``We're all watching as things are unraveling. In terms of helping, we are still in the stage of trying to put out the fires and rescue people.
``When the fire is contained and the assessment is made and we see the size of the damage, I'm sure the building will begin and that's when we start talking about monetary figures.''
Though there will almost certainly be an fund-raising effort to support relief programs, Father Al Demos, a priest at the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston yesterday said the diocese is asking churches to pray for victims of the disaster.
``We're going to send out ... an encyclical today asking for a special prayer service for the living who are ill and suffering, and a special service for those who died in the fire.''
This coming Sunday, church leaders are also asking Greek Orthodox churches throughout New England to hold a special collection to support relief efforts, Demos said.
``We've been inundated here with phone calls from people asking to help,'' Demos said. ``We're asking them to work with parish priests. The more information we get and the clearer this becomes as to what the needs are, then we can be more specific as to how to address this. Right now, we want to pray for the living and the dead.''
Peter Reuell of The MetroWest (Mass.) Daily News can be reached at 508-626-4428, or at email@example.com.