On May 13 torrential rains hit Southeastern Europe triggering flash floods and landslides. The large amount of rainfall that has fallen in eastern Croatian and large part of the central and north Bosnia and Herzegovina caused a sudden rise in water level of rivers, groundwaters and backwaters, exceeding the maximum ever recorded water levels in several cities. In three days the area recorded rainfall equal to three month quantities. In some area water levels rose by 3.5 meters over a period of just 24 hours. The probability of such high water level occuring in the city of Županja was once in 1 000 years and the levee system was not built to withstand it.
Croatia managed to successfully combat the amount of water coming in until the night of 17 May when the Sava river broke out of its levee system in two places along the 210 km line in the eastern part of the country and partially or completely flooded 210 sq km of the surrounding area. The unprecedented floods caused widespread power outages, water shortages, damage to the infrastructure, livestock and livelihoods, and displacement of the affected population. The flooding caused 3 deaths and out of estimated 15,000 people evacuated to the nearby cities and ten temporary collective centers, 8,321 were registered by the Croatian Red Cross.
On May 20 the Croatian Government, advised by the National Protection and Rescue Directorate, declared a state of disaster for the Vukovar-Srijem County and Operational - Communication Center was set up in the city of Županja. Croatian Red Cross was designated as a coordinator for receipt and distribution of humanitarian aid.
Croatian Red Cross activities
At the peak of the crisis 1,737 Red Cross volunteers and staff were actively engaged in day-to-day relief operations in the affected area and throughout the country mostly collecting, sorting and dispatching the humanitarian aid, providing tracing service activities, providing psychosocial support, preparing meals, and providing logistical support to the 209 National Intervention Team members and staff on the ground. More than 70,900 hot and 123,000 ready-to-eat meals prepared and delivered to the intervention forces on the ground, volunteers, and evacuated people in collective centers.
The Red Cross National Intervention Team concentrates its current response efforts on the following activities:
Organization and distribution of the humanitarian aid to the evacuated and affected people
Management of the local spontaneous volunteers
Communication with and the guidance to the local population
Field assessment and reporting
Management of the Red Cross volunteers
Hygiene promotion activities in collective centers
Mobile team to dislocated areas
Logistics support to the members of the Psychosocial support team
Ongoing needs assessment in the affected areas
The Croatian Red Cross has organized the reception, storage, and distribution of humanitarian aid of more than 2,000 pallet-loads of food and non-food items, and raised financial contributions through donations from citizens and companies in the amount exceeding 7 million EUR.