Above is a video I took on Sunday. Owen and I were riding along the banks of the Sava River and watching the hundreds of volunteers putting up sand bags along the banks. I was totally impressed with the kindness of the Serbs and how disaster can bring people together. Below is a video from the news coverage, showing the extent of the flooding from the air in the towns along the Sava that were flooded. The first city featured is Obrenovac, where many of our school employees are from . Our relief efforts continue…
Serbia experienced 4-5 days of heavy, steady rains this week, which caused major flooding of the Sava River. Several small cities along the river, including nearby Obrenovac, were completely flooded by over a meter of water. Several people died and thousands were evacuated. The damage must be enormous, and much livestock died. Flooding also occurred in in Bosnia, even more so than in Serbia. This is the worst flooding in the Balkans in recorded history.
Our good friends from Obrenovac were rescued by our head of security, and he told me a harrowing tale of getting through 1.20 meter deep water at night. The area was sealed off by authorities and people are being evacuated by boats now.
I help organized a flood relief donations drive at our school. I was Administrator-in-Charge and earlier in the week I was dealing with possible closing of school Due to the heavy rains, all Serbian public schools closed by order of the government. We stayed open because almost all of our students live in areas that were away from the flooding and all take private transport. It felt good to help the people of nearby Obrenovac that needed to evacuate. They must be devastated to have that much water go into their homes. It will take a lot of cleaning, and drying out of things.
The past couple of days I took the boys biking along the Sava. In Belgrade the water was high but not flooding. Today city officials were expecting a surge coming from down river as the flood waters recede and go back through to the river. Hundreds of volunteers were filling sandbags and lining them along the river to protect the areas adjacent to the river. I hope their work is sufficient to hold back the water. There are many homes and businesses near the river, and many of the famous splavs and restaurants on the river are flooded and may sustain some damages. As you can see by the pictures and video in this post, it was an anxious ride for Owen and I today. It was heartening to see the many good people helping out strangers and working together to protect areas from the flood.
We have been watching the RTS and B 92 news. I’ll try to keep updated with the progress of the flood and recovery efforts. A lot of work will have to be done with cleaning, repairing, and purchasing of new carpet, appliances, etc. for the people of Obrenovac and other cities. I hope our family can lend a hand in the next few weeks before we leave Serbia.
Last weekend we went for dinner on a “splav” or raft on the Sava River here in Belgrade. The splavs are all over the river and consist of bars and nightclub (like the example above with the New Railroad Bridge in the background) restaurants, and private weekend cottages. There is a good article on the splavs here if you want to learn more.
The water was so high it flooded the bike path. It is up several meters from its usual depth. We had a snowy winter and rainy spring, and hence the high water situation. The hot, sunny weather finally arrived this week and so we are hoping the rain will go away and we can use the bike path again.