Worst recorded floods in 120 years: “Everything was lost in a second”
Over the past few days, heavy rainfall has caused massive floods and landslides in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as in Serbia. The floods are said to be the worst in 120 years and have brought enormous destruction and suffering in a region that is still recovering from many years of civil war and that suffers from chronic poverty. According to latest news reports, at least 35 people have died but more casualties are expected.
The floods have left roads blocked, electricity cut off and houses completely submerged in water or swept away. Several bridges have been destroyed and some regions are completely cut off from help. In Bosnia, at least 2,000 landslides were registered according to media sources. These landslides have also triggered a severe risk of injury or death from land mines left from the Balkan wars in the 1990s. The landslides swept away many of the carefully placed warning signs around the minefields.
CARE staffer Sevko Bajic reports from Bosnia: “I visited a partner organization in Bijelna when the floods occurred. Rivers have flooded over, streets are under water. I saw the fear in people’s eyes when I passed them on the streets.
Bajic was a witness to desperate scenes: “In Skender Vakuf I could hardly get through on a road and literally a second after my car has passed, a gigantic landslide came down and destroyed houses and the road. From one second to the next, everything was lost. In Travnik, I saw homes lost in water. I reached home but my heart was filled with sadness. This is first time in my life – and I lived in Sarajevo during the war – for me to see people lose their hope so quickly.”
In a region already considered one of the poorest in Europe, these floods mean that many communities have lost everything: their houses, their livestock and crops.
CARE is coordinating with its partner organizations in Serbia as well as in Bosnia and Herzegovina and will provide emergency relief in the communities we are present in. A first distribution of water pumps, shovels and boots is planned to support the communities recover from the worst damage.