“This is so terrible,” says Verica Marti from Maglaj (Bosnia and Herzegovina). With tears in her eyes and still in a state of disbelief, she had just thrown away the wooden floors of her home, which were soaked in flood water. “This flat was all that I had left from my parents and now I have nothing,” she says. She used to think of it as her perfect home.
The torrential rains in the Balkans have triggered floods and landslides in some of the poorest areas of the region, affecting over 2 million people and causing considerable damage to homes, livestock and livelihoods, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without water and electricity.
Search and rescue operations are no longer taking place and focus shifted to early recovery stage, with people returning to their damaged houses to clean up debris, and to dry and disinfect their homes.
Local authorities say dozens died in the floods and tens of thousands of people have had to leave their homes. The Red Cross Societies of the three affected Balkan countries are running shelters for evacuees, looking after the daily needs of those who cannot yet return to their homes, providing them with meals, drinking water, hygienic kits and much needed comfort.
While many are beginning to return home, thousands are still in evacuation centers or with host-families as water levels remain high in the Brcko region in Bosnia and Obrenovac in Serbia. In some places, homes have been completely destroyed by landslides.