Albania

Albania: PM Berisha visits flood-endangered areas in Shkodra

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Following his visit to the flooded areas of Lezha region, PM Sali Berisha paid a visit to Shkodra town and its outskirts to see from very close the created situation because of the heavy rainfall in this region.

Accompanied by Interior Minister Lulzim Basha and Defense Minister Arben Imami, PM Berisha visited the dyke and hydropower station of Vau i Dejës, as well as the Machinery Control Systems.

Further on, PM Berisha held a meeting with the Emergency Staff. PM Berisha declared the state of emergency and demanded immediate evacuation of the local residents. PM Berisha demanded the accurate implementation of the orders and requirements of the experts on the dykes and hydropower stations.

Following is the full speech by PM Berisha:

"Local leaders and ministers!

Firstly, I would like to convey to Shkodra citizens my cordial wishes for the New Year! I wish happiness, prosperity and success to you and every citizen of this region.

Secondly, I would like to congratulate the Staff of the Civil Emergency, the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defense for being up to the mark; the rainfall makes a serious threat mainly over the Drini cascade while the water discharge should be increased especially in Koman. I point to Koman because it has a small lake and it is getting increased by 8 cm per hour.

You and the ministries have been in constant contact with Dajç commune, Obot and Ana e Malit and all the area threatened by inundation. It's done the maximum effort to avoid a broad-scale inundation. I came here because we are on the threshold of a critical moment when we shall be forced to make water discharges from the three lakes:

Fierza, Komani and Vau i Dejës.

Weather forecast shows at least a ten-day rainfall which in the Alps and Drini River basin push for a lot of water discharges. In this context, the two endangered areas of your region, i.e. Ana e Malit and Dajçi, Guri i Zi, should be evacuated at all cost and quickly because we should be forced to open the discharge tunnels. The inhabitants should be accommodated in the best possible conditions.

Mr. Prefect! The state of emergency implies all assets and means become available. The government will pay if the hotels will be taken for the accommodation of the inhabitants.

The dormitories and two convalescent homes will also become available, so no need to send people to the stadiums. Also we do have the transportation capacity.

Ministry of Education will postpone the resume of lessons at the "Luigj Gurakuqi" University even for several days as the dormitories will be taken temporarily.

The state will provide food supplies and clothing so that this difficult time is passed without much hurt.

Mr. Prefect! It's indispensable the identification of every planted area. Albanian Power Corporation is forced to indemnify on condition of objective assessment.

Police and the army units can make evacuation in case of need. And not even a single person can be left in danger. We do have all the potentials so that to overcome this state of emergency with as little problem and pain as possible. And we should avoid any danger of Shkodra, Lezha or the rest of the lowlands.

I have been constantly informed. It's an expert thought that of opening the tunnels and we should not delay. I think you have the capacity of coping efficiently with the situation. The government will make available everything you need.

The unfavorable situation this time is caused by the heavy swell of the sea that has covered everything. I have followed the situation and I think we should follow expert advice. This is indispensable because two lakes, especially Koman is having a growing water level.

The army staff is to deal with placing 5000 up to 10000 flood-preventing bags if it will be necessary.

A great quantity of flood-preventing bags is also available in Puka.

Health service should function non-stop and additional doctors and nurses should be sent.

You have done great job, but weather forecast is not favorable and we should prepare to prevent. However, evacuation will begin because we have to increase water discharge on expert advice.

It's the job of the experts to avoid at all costs a major risk to the hydropower stations. An increase of Koman lake level would flood the turbine place in Fierza. 175.8 is the critical stage. The government will follow every decision the emergency group of dykes and hydropower stations will take. The farmers should also become aware of the necessity of increased discharges, perhaps 3-4 times more. And there is nothing in between."