Flooded Greek farms a warning in the face of climate change

STORY: These fruitless almond trees belong to farmer Babis Evangelinos.

He's one of the many farmers in central Greece still reeling from unprecedented flooding last year.

"The situation is disappointing,” he says.

“I could never have imagined I would have to board a boat to get to see my land."

His small plot is on the Thessaly plain -- a key breadbasket in Greece.

It normally accounts for a quarter of the country's agricultural produce.

But last year, storms submerged about 35,000 acres in the area, near Lake Karla.

One estimate suggests it could take up to two years for the water to subside.

The flooding has raised questions about the Mediterranean country's ability to cope with an increasingly erratic climate.

Last year, wildfires scorched the north.

Then Storm Daniel dumped 18 months’ worth of rain in a matter of days.

It, and another storm - Elias - slammed into Evangelinos’ small plot.

Tens of thousands of acres of cotton fields, almond trees and grazing land were submerged when nearly 18 billion cubic feet of water poured into the area.

"The work of a lifetime has been destroyed, lost, in three, four days of rain," he says.

Like in India, France and Poland, farmers here want more help.

Thousands of them descended on Athens.

Beyond climate change, they're also worried about rising costs, foreign competition and what they see as a lack of government support.

So far the government has offered up the equivalent of about $160 million in compensation.

Another roughly $120 million is set to come in July.

There have been other gestures, too, like discounts on power bills and a diesel tax rebate, but after a decade-long financial crisis, the government is cash-strapped.

It's unclear if it will offer more.

What’s key, according to Thessaly governor Dimitris Kouretas, is pumping the water out - and fast.

Local authorities want to start in one area in April.

"There are a few thousand families living here," he says, "Do we want them to go?”

As for Evangelinos, he had been banking on harvesting about 11 U.S. tons of almonds this season.

He's managed less than half of that, and isn't sure how he’ll pay for his two daughters’ university expenses.

But Evangelinos says he’s not giving up.

If needed, he wants to uproot damaged trees, and plant new ones -- if the soil is fit for cultivation.