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Rapid Response Fund Payment Request No. 14/2013
Funds Sent To: Ecumenical Association of Churches in Romania - AIDRom
Amount Sent: US 49,917
Date: 23 September 2013
Details of Response
Emergency: Relief Support to Flood Affected in Romania
Date of Emergency: From mid September 2013 onwards
ACT Requesting Member: Ecumenical Association of Churches in Romania - AIDRom
I. NARRATIVE SUMMARY
DETAILS OF THE EMERGENCY
Continuous torrential rains have swept eastern Romania during the past weeks, causing the water levels to rise rapidly as of Thursday 12th of September, swelling rivers, flooding homes and churning up roads. Events exacerbated between 13th–15th of September, when further extremely heavy rainfall caused massive damages in counties of Galati, Braila and Tulcea situated in the south-eastern part of Moldova province. Rain continued to fall Sunday morning as well, causing further damage to buildings, and the flooding of 3,042 hectares (7,500 acres) of farmland. Between 10-14 September, the quantity of the rain fallen equalled the region's average rainfall for two months.
Thousands of villagers have fled their homes as flash flood waters and those from the overflowing rivers spread across Eastern Romania. People were practically running away from the flooded areas with makeshift boats, horse carriages and cars and some scrambled up trees to get away from the rising waters. They had to leave everything at home, all what have left are the clothes they're wearing and what they could save in some plastic handbags. Hundreds more might have to leave their dwellings in the next 2-3 days if flood waters will not withdraw.
Soldiers and civil defense workers scrambled to reinforce dykes and build sandbag barriers. Across the region, 1.400 emergency workers have been deployed round the clock to reinforce defenses and battle the churning waters, trying to consolidate with sandbags dikes and dams along the main rivers eastern Romania. The volunteers are struggling to keep up the tempo day after day. In some parts the water has soaked dams and embankments and it is impossible to use heavy equipment such as bulldozers to fight the waters.
The hardest hit region is the county of Galati, recording the highest number of evacuees and flooded villages. The other counties of Moldavia seriously affected are Braila and Tulcea, but people were not spared also in the counties of Suceava and Vaslui. Thousands of people are currently accommodated in school buildings, monasteries, hospitals, army tents, sport facilities. Around 2.000 refused to leave their home for fear of looters, but eventually were evacuated when realized that their lives are in great danger.
Like always in such dramatic situation, the worst affected are mostly the economically disadvantaged people often living in remote villages. People have been trapped inside their houses in tens of villages in these counties. Bulldozers are clearing off paths in villages, leaving behind mud and dirt meters high. Authorities have started to reach all affected villages and media has brought to attention desperate cases of people who live in soaked homes, full of mud, have no water, no access to food, medicine, electricity. Water supply infrastructures in the affected regions have significantly deteriorated. Many villages don’t have a water pipe line system; therefore they are still relying on the water well fountains from the yards. Therefore access to fresh water and food is very limited.
There is also a danger of the increase of water related and water-borne diseases. Local health authorities fear an epidemic that could easily spread after the waters will withdraw: on one hand from the rotten animal carcasses floating on the waters and on the other hand from the inflow of mosquitoes and the stink of sewage coming from the flooded houses. Water supplies in the affected regions have significantly deteriorated due to the flash floods, especially in the rural areas and smaller towns. It is expected for this situation to last at least a month. Village shops are in the impossibility to make commodity acquisitions and to open. Romanian Post is unable to deliver the pensions of the elders from the flooded rural areas.
Access to many affected regions is still difficult at the moment, but local and county authorities are working to re-establish road access to all areas in order to create conditions for humanitarian aid deliveries foreseen for the upcoming days, from various directions. Currently, many of the evacuated population are not waiting for an official decision from the authorities, but are leaving the evacuation shelters and trying to return home. This is very dangerous, as public utilities and houses have been so damaged, that they are a hazard to human life. But still, they are eager to return to their homes, both to evaluate the damages, and to begin a long and exhausting rehabilitation.
As the assessment of the damages on county level is continuously ongoing these days, precise data cannot be presented yet, due the fact that figures are constantly changing according to the incoming local and regional reports. Based on the latest information:
• 5 counties affected: very seriously Galati, followed by Braila, Tulcea, Suceava, and Vaslui,
• 39 villages flooded, among them 24 very seriously affected those are Cudalbi, Cuca, Costache Negri, Măcişeni, Rediu, Griviţa, Vlădeşti, Oancea, Tudor Vladimirescu, Slobozoia Conachi, Pechea Galati, Cuza Voda,, Barlad, Tecuci, Corni, Folteşti, Măstăcani, Rediu, Pechea
• 6.901 persons were evacuated in the peak phase of flood
• 9 persons have deceased
• 1.735 houses flooded
• 35 homes collapsed (more following to fall apart after walls being soaked)
• 1.696 farms flooded
• 3.042 hectares of crops and grazing grounds flooded
• 4 villages remained without electricity
• 463 pedestrian bridges affected
• 24 km of national roads blocked with water one meter deep in some cases
• 11 km of county roads destroyed
ACTIONS TO DATE, AND EMERGENCY NEEDS
Land access to many affected regions is still very difficult or not possible at all at the moment, army vehicles and helicopters are delivering supplies to the isolated communities. Local and county authorities are working to re-establish road access to all areas in order to create conditions for humanitarian aid deliveries foreseen for the upcoming days, from various directions, as a nationally coordinated major action of crisis phase assistance is following to be implemented in a vast area.
The response from the Government and state institutions to this high emergency was relatively sound and good; however, it is unable to meet all the various needs of the affected population in the same time. The Government’s Operative Committee for Emergency and Crisis Situation proclaimed a state of emergency and started urgent distribution of drinking water, food and non-food supplies from the national reserves for those evacuated. People from evacuation camps are receiving blankets, mattresses, canned foods, bread, mineral water, sugar, mineral water, oil, flour, rain coats, and lamp oil. The Government has organized an emergency commandment to evacuate people from 17 villages worst hit by floods and support those affected. The Ministry of National Defence is monitoring the situation in the affected regions through the specialized structure and has troops and technical means is ready for emergency action in support of local and central public authorities to mitigate the effects of floods. Army vehicles and helicopters are regularly delivering supplies for the isolated communities.
Appeal has been made by the Ministry of the Interior through the national media to NGO’s and volunteers to help and assist as much as possible (according to their capacity and possibility of assistance) on the evacuated people and also on those returning home to the most affected regions. Access to the most affected regions is still very difficult at the moment, but local and county authorities are working to re-establish road access to all areas in order to create conditions for humanitarian aid deliveries foreseen for the upcoming days, from various directions.
Several public institutions and companies from various parts of the country have already started collecting food, clothes and medicines for the flood victims in rural areas of Moldova severely affected by floods. Centres for collecting non-perishable food have been opened in less affected towns from the western, central and northern part of the country, where citizens can make donations to help people in distress living in the places that have been isolated and damaged by flood waters. Lorries of the Joint Logistic Command will follow to carry this aid to the designated areas.
ACT Alliance member, AIDRom is in contact with several communities through local church-ministers, who are giving regularly updated information and data regarding the scale of the calamity, the needs of the people. Starting with 16th of September 2013, an assessment team of 4 from AIDRom Emergency Unit surveys the most affected counties in coordination with AIDRom local partners. At the same time, the team also carried to the affected areas water pumps for well cleaning, power generators, sleeping bags and home dehumidifying equipment to be used by the rural community crisis teams.
It is currently impossible to reach all of the flooded villages. Needs for emergency relief commodities like vital food staples such as canned food, flour, rice, sugar, oil, water and tea, as well as infant baby food along with basic household necessities like laundry detergent, dish soap, male and female personal hygiene items, towels, are overwhelming at the moment in many parts of the flooded areas. In some areas where floodwaters withdraw, people returned home, trying to salvage what they could of their possessions, and set up improvised shelters made of plastic foil and wooden sticks around their former homes.
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