Published: 15:42, 23 September 2020
| Updated: 16:18, 23 September 2020
A couple caught up in a deadly cyclone in Greece have said it was heartbreaking to see the devastation if left behind.
Micah and Ian Tamplin, from Northfleet , said it was the worst 48 hours of their lives as hurricane-force winds and sheets of rain battered their hotel in Kefalonia.
When the couple emerged from their room after the “terrifying storm” they found the beach had been decimated and dozens of dead birds.
They were holidaying on the island, in Skala, when the medicane – a Mediterranean hurricane – struck, leaving three people dead across Greece and two others missing.
Mrs Tamplin, a 49-year-old property manager, whose house was hit by the Great Storm of 1987, says they had no idea what to expect when they arrived last Tuesday.
But tell-tale signs of what was to come emerged soon after they checked in.
“The sea is usually like a mill pond but it was so feisty,” Mrs Tamplin said.
“We checked the weather report and it was predicting thunderstorms and heavy rain on the Friday. But then on the Wednesday we started getting weather alerts sent to our phones.”
Islanders and holidaymakers were warned of the incoming storm and told to avoid basements and areas that could easily flood.
Micah and Ian – a 49-year-old marshal at Ocado in Erith – were holed up in their self-catering room when Cyclone Ioanos struck in the early hours of Thursday.
“We could hear the trees creaking and the furniture being chucked around,” Micah said.
“The rain was coming down like sheets. The noise was absolutely terrifying. You couldn’t even open the patio doors because the wind was so ferocious.”
Eventually, metal storm shutters were brought down on the hotel, but things took a turn for the worse when the electricity went off.
“It was pitch black,” Micah said. “It just made the noise worse, not knowing what was happening outside. We didn’t get a single bit of sleep.”
As they emerged from their room the following morning – with things eerily calm in the eye of the storm – the couple, of Phoenix Road, were met with a scene of devastation.
“There were sunbeds all over the place, furniture was broken and trees had come down,” Micah said.
“The hotel had been decimated and everywhere was unrecognisable. The beach had been utterly destroyed. But the worse thing was the amount of swallows just lying dead on the ground. It was absolutely heartbreaking.”
The storm continued into the weekend, leaving a trail of destruction across the Ioanian Islands and mainland Greece, with Kefalonia itself left with no electricity or running water.
On Sunday, the body of a 62-year-old farmer was found under the collapsed roof of his house in a village near Karditsa, north of Athens, officials said.
Another man was found dead on his farm in the same region, while the body of a woman was recovered from her flooded home in a nearby town.
Micah and Ian have been holidaying on the island since 2007.
“It’s terrible for the whole of Greece and everyone affected,” Micah said. “It really was the worst 48 hours of our lives. I’m old enough to remember the Great Storm of 1987 when we lost half our house, but this was worse.”
Despite their ordeal, the Tamplins - who have been holidaying on the island since 2007 - say they will return.
“We love this island a lot and will come back again, but for once we’re relieved to be going home,” Micah said.
Messenger reporter Nicola Gearey has also been caught up in the hurricane . with husband Kevin.
They booked the break to celebrate their ruby wedding anniversary.
She said: “During the worst of it we were trapped in the hotel, which was flooded by six inches of water.”