Bulgaria: Floods Minor Emergency No. 05ME047 Update No. 1


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In Brief

Operations Update no. 1; Period covered: 9 August 2005 to 15 November 2005

This Minor Emergency Update no. 1 is being issued based on the situation described below and reflecting the information available at this time. In August 2005, CHF 142,309.85 (USD 110,470 or EUR 91,931) was allocated from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to respond to the needs in this operation. This allocation met a portion of the needs as assessed by the Bulgarian Red Cross during the emergency response phase. An interim report on the utilization of the DREF allocation of CHF 142,309.85 will be available by the beginning of December 2005.

A further DREF allocation was approved in November 2005 in an amount of CHF 77,500 (EUR 50,000). This allocation was made to support outstanding needs amongst the affected population as winter approaches: to support the final clearing out and cleaning phase with disinfectants and insecticides, as well as the provision of basic household materials -- beds and mattresses. This brings the overall budget for this minor emergency appeal to CHF 219,809.86 (EUR 141,931). The operational timeframe for this minor emergency appeal has also been extended to 31 January 2006. A total of 4,507 families will be assisted through the operation, and a Final Report will be made available one month after the end of the operation (i.e. by 28 February 2006). Replenishment of DREF by un-earmarked contributions is welcome and needed.

Background, and current situation

As a result of storms, unprecedented heavy rain and hail in the period 25 May - 12 August 2005, Bulgaria suffered the worst flooding in 70 years. Many dams burst and overflowed, rivers flooded arable land, and the work of many electrical distribution stations and pump stations was threatened; roads and railway infrastructure were swept away, drinking water supplies were disrupted, bridges were destroyed and communication across the country was disrupted. Electricity supplies and communications in many cities and villages were cut off. In many places erosion and landslides led to mud and rocks blocking roads and rail roads. The rivers Yantra, Kamchiya, Roussensky Lom and their subsidiary streams burst their banks.

The floods damaged inhabited buildings (public and private) and infrastructure -- roads, streets, railroad sections, gutters, draining equipment, and bridges and disrupted communication along the two biggest Bulgarian highways - Hemus and Trakiya. Some 70% of the territory of Bulgaria was affected. Losses are enormous in the affected agriculture areas -- damaged grain cultures amount to some 54,874 hectares, with some 10,599 drowned animals (Source: Ministry of Agriculture). As heavy rains continued to fall through September, grapes, vegetable and fruit crops were also heavily affected and actual losses are only finally becoming clear as the flood waters are draining away. Some 3,645 inhabited buildings were declared unsuitable to live in, directly affecting 60,137 people. In 62 municipalities, there were 258 houses totally destroyed and 1,143 partially destroyed, 44 municipalities declared a state of emergency, and 164 municipalities were affected by the floods. (Source: National Association of the municipalities in the Republic of Bulgaria). In rural areas the population traditionally prepares a variety of food products (up to 50% of all used) during summer and early autumn to be consumed in late autumn, winter and early spring. This includes conservation of fruits and vegetables, cheese, meat, etc. Most of the ingredients are grown in private gardens and stored in basements after conservation. All these were totally destroyed in flooded areas. Water remained for weeks in almost all basements and many gardens and orchards. Almost all domestic birds and many animals were killed, because people could not save them. According to United Nations (UN) agency sources, 20 people were killed (Source: UN-OCHA). The floods have so far affected more than 2 million people (25 % of the Bulgarian population). The damage is estimated at USD 633 million. (Source: NATO). As work on the needs assessment continued, the second week of September saw a further wave of flooding with 565 houses flooded, mainly in the region of Veliko Tarnovo, hit by flooding for the third time in the space of five months. Some 60 houses were destroyed by water in Plovdiv region.

Local authority and state initiatives

The State Agency for Civil Protection, Fire Brigade, Police and other disaster partners have been coordinating actions in response to the crisis, and from the beginning of the alert, the Bulgarian Red Cross (BRC) has been in daily contact with the Crisis Management Centre of the agency. The regional branches of the BRC have also been critical in monitoring developments in the communities in which they work. Urgent action was taken to alleviate the consequences of the floods by governmental institutions and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs). Rescue teams have been involved in drainage work, clearing mud and fallen trees from the buildings, roads and streets. Temporary dikes were built on endangered sections. People have been relocated from the most affected buildings to temporary shelters, mostly schools, kindergartens, relatives and host families. Immediately after declaring a state of emergency, the Standing Commission for civil protection in times of disasters, accidents and catastrophes -- Council of ministers, regional and municipal commissions in the affected regions -- started to work. Rescue efforts were immediately organized with crews from Civil Protection, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Regional Development, Ministry of Defense, Municipal organizations and others who had tasks to ensure and accomplish urgent emergency-rescue activities, according to the municipal and regional plans for actio n in disasters, accidents and catastrophes. The organization and coordination of human and material resources were supervised by the commissions at all levels. The BRC has played a crucial role as a valuable partner of the government in this difficult sit uation and has coordinated its efforts with national and local authorities, NGOs, the national society of municipalities in Bulgaria, and other organizations such as United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Caritas, Care, etc. The Standing Governmental Commission asked the Bulgarian Red Cross for assistance and the Civil Protection agency is continuing to provide updated figures to the Bulgarian Red Cross.

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

In Bulgaria: Bulgarian Red Cross, Jassen Slivensky, Disaster Management Coordinator, j.slivensky@redcross.bg, phone: +359 281 64898

In Regional Delegation Budapest: Slobodanka Curic, Regional Disaster Management Coordinator, slobodanka.curic@ifrc.org, phone: + 38765 665 747

In Geneva: Europe Department, Erja Reinikainen, Regional Officer erja.reinikainen@ifrc.org, phone: + 41 22 730 4319, fax + 41 22 733 0395.

All International Federation assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable. For support to or for further information concerning Federation programmes or operations in this or other countries, or for a full description of the national society profile, please access the Federation's website at http://www.ifrc.org

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