Flood-struck families urgently make repairs as they face into winter

تم النشر: 15 أغسطس 2014 17:15 CET

By Stephen Ryan (@stiofanoriain), in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Across the Bosnia and Herzegovina, communities are still struggling to recover from the devastating floods that swept across the country, as well as Croatia and Serbia, in May of this year. For the past three months, staff and volunteers of the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina have been working non-stop to help the hundreds of thousands who were affected.

The floods began on the night of 13 May, but continued to rise over the next three days. Many had to suddenly leave their homes, carrying with them only the few possessions they could quickly grab. An estimated 40,000 people were evacuated, and over the past 12 weeks, the Red Cross has provided relief including food and household items to tens of thousands of families

Today, the devastation left by May’s floods is less obvious, at least at first glance. Shops and markets are open, and people are out on the streets living out their daily lives. Look beyond the surface though, and the marks left behind by the receding waters become stark. Some of have been luckier than others; many have a long way to go before they can return to their homes.

In Maglaj, Emin invites us into his house. He has cleaned it out as best he could, but is still a long way from making it into a home once again. He shows us photographs of his family; they are now all staying with his sister-in-law’s small apartment. He would like to make even one room of his house ready for cold weather before the winter comes, but doubts it will be possible. With the funds he has received from the Red Cross, he plans to fix the floors of his home, and repair the house’s electrics that were ruined by the rising waters.

“This is the second time I have had to start again,” he said, referring to rebuilding his life after the war.

In Brčko, we meet with Jela, an older woman who lives alone. Recently, she injured her leg, but as she struggles around her house, the pain in her eyes is more from the damage to her home than the injury to her leg. There are cracks in the walls; she doesn’t know if the government will provide funds to repair her home. It has taken her years to make her home here, and she was just about to retire. She is worried about the future. “I worked so hard for this house, I didn’t want to leave, even as the waters came pouring in,” she tells us. 

Some families have already begun important repairs, despite their fear that the floods may come again. In Janja, Hajdar and his family have used a cash grant provided by the Red Cross to fix their wood-fired heating system, which will be essential once the temperatures fall.

In addition to food and non-food relief, the Red Cross has been providing small cash grants to allow families to begin minimal repairs to their homes in advance of winter, or to buy some of the basic household items that were destroyed by the torrents of water. 

People we help

Learn about the families that the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been assisting following these floods:
Beneficiary profile: Emin
Emin, a retiree, had to evacuate his home when floods swept through Maglaj in May of this year
Beneficiary profile: Jela
Jela worked hard for many years to build her home in Brčko. The floodwaters swept almost everything away.
Beneficiary profile: Hajdar
Hajdar and his family woke at 3 am one night in in May to the sound of rushing water; floods had arrived in Janja.
Beneficiary profile: Mina
Mina is 65 years old. When the floods came to Brčko district in Bosnia and Herzegovina, she lost almost everything.