Support for the flooded Balkan people
Team Member: Tena Loncarevic
I'm from a small town called Županja, in the eastern part of Croatia, that was in the midst of the
fight against the flooding river Sava. Croatia has been very unfortunate in the past couple decades.
We had a terrible bloody war in the beginning of the 1990's, followed by a series of corrupted
goverments, which kept our economic recovery very slow and our unemployment rate high. And
now this flood took away what little people were able to re-built after the war. Last week, the river
Sava had the highest water level ever recorded. In my town, Županja, it was 1,168 cm high (or 38
feet). (The normal water level is 500 cm (16 feet)). Huge amounts of water came, rushing down the
river and into Croatia, from the already flooded places in Bosnia and Hercegovina. At first, we didn't
really know what was going on. All we saw was the river growing rapidly, as fast as 30 cm (1 foot) an
hour, but no media was reporting anything. Since the water level rose so fast, the institutions that
were supposed to take care of that sort of thing didn't react fast enough. The protection of our town
was left up to us, and now looking back at the worst moment, we are proud to say that we defended
ourselves from the raging water. Our men organized themselves and started fillling the bags with
sand and building up the levee to deffend not only Županja, but also other villages around it that are
sitting in the lower elevation. On Friday night ( May 16th), our high-school seniors left their prom
and joined forces with their fathers and brothers. Us women, started bringing food and water to the
me and helping with the bags. No one slept for days, while the fight with the river was going on. We
were scared, but really didn't have time to think about it. All we knew was that we had to fill the bags
and build up the levee fast, to stay ahead of the water. We were all together and detirmened to win
the fight and save our homes. Eventually, the media silence broke and we started to understand the
magnitude of what was going on accross from us, in Bosnia, that was affecting us. We started hearing
of the cities in Bosnia and Serbia, like Obrenovac, Doboj and Maglaj, that were completetly under
water. We heard about the eath tool of 40 people.
After a week of barely staying ahead of the water, we succedded in defending Županja and nearbay
villiges of Štitar, Bošnjaci, Babina Greda, Slavonski Šamac, Vrbanja, Drenovci and the city of Slavonski
Brod. Not all the villages were as lucky as we were. The levee broke in two places and completly
drowned the villages Gunja, Rajevo Selo and Račinovci. Three people died and 15,000 lost their
homes, farm animals, crops, vegetable gardens. Becasue this flood took place in May, all the crops
that for some families provide the only income have been seeded and are now lost. Some families
will not have income this year. They will completely depend on the outside help. The water came so
quicly that people didn't have time to evacuate, and found rescue on the rooftops of their ouses and
were air lifted later.
Once again,the generous and caring people from all over Croatia organized themselves to help
the victimes of the biggest catastrofe these countries saw since the war. Many people openned
their homes to accept refugees, started collecting and sitributing money, clothes and food supplies.
Volunteers and Croatian army have been working around the clock to rescue the animals that were
left behid. Unfortunately, we already know that 4,000 cattle have died. We don't know yet the loss in
pigs, chickens, turkey, all of which was food and income for these people.
Nobody can tell how long it will take to clean up and rebuild. The river is receeding very slowely, and
no one, except the rescue squad, is allowed to go back into the flooded villages.
A man from Gunja told me that this is a much worse disaster for him than the war, because during
the war he didn't have to leave his home. He felt in control of that decision. Once the river rushed into his village, he didn't have control. He had to leave everything behind and run for his life. He feels
completly powerless. We all do, when a natural disaster strikes.
Please help these people wiht your donation. They didn't deserve to go through this. Nobody does!
We are very greatful for your support!