Three months' worth of rain fell on the region in just
a few days, causing rivers to burst their banks and sweep into people's homes
in Serbia, Bosnia and Eastern Croatia. States of emergency were declared in
parts of Bosnia and Serbia after the heaviest rain and worst floods since
records began 120 years ago. Hundreds of thousands of people have had to be
evacuated from areas close to the rivers. Around 3 million people have
been directly affected.
Overflowing rivers have burst into towns and villages,
cutting off whole communities, while 3,000 landslides have buried thousands of
houses. Army helicopters and rescue teams have been sent to evacuate thousands
of stranded residents but reports say bad weather is hampering the rescue
Some witnesses said that because the floodwaters acted
as a tsunami, three to four meters high, no one was able to resist them. The
report is that over 40 people died and the death toll is expected to rise as
many people are still missing.
Members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church have been
affected: South-East European Union Communication Director Igor Bosnić reports
that 20 Adventist families have seen their homes destroyed and four church
buildings have also been destroyed (Paraćin and Svilajnac in Serbia and Trnjaci
and Doboj in Bosnia).
In the Doboj church, Bible worker Josef Taši and his
wife Marina ran to the second floor of the church building to escape the
fast-rising water but the water reached them even there. They then escaped to
the attic. At that moment they realized that their mobile phone needed charging
and they couldn’t contact anyone. They were trapped from 11a.m. until 7
p.m. on May 15. Guessing what had happened, the church leaders called the
emergency center, which sent a helicopter to rescue them. They heard the
helicopter’s noise but were not aware that it had come for them so they didn’t
go out on the roof. Finally a boat was sent to rescue them and they were
evacuated. They lost all their possessions: furniture, clothes, and a car.
In Šabac, 20 students and their professors from
Belgrade Theological Seminary joined a group of 6,000 volunteers to build a
shield with sand sacks to protect the city, reports Dragan Grujičić, seminary
principal. During the night of May 17, they built 23 kilometres of shield at
the bank of the River Sava.
The youth of the Belgrade churches also joined
volunteers to help in food distribution and fill up sacks with
sand. According to Pastor Miroslav Gagić, the church members in Sremska
Mitrovica had a short worship on Sabbath and then all the men went to work at
the banks of the River Sava to help protect the city since the level of the
water was rising very quickly. At the same time, the ladies of the church
cooked food which was distributed to the volunteers.
ADRA Serbia and ADRA Croatia have initiated collection
of food, drinking water, and clothes, for people who had to leave their
homes. “We have to help people in their difficult times. We should not
forget them even once the water is gone,” says Zlatko Musija, president of the
Adriatic Union, which includes Croatia.
“I am deeply grateful to all people of good will who
were willing to help us in this difficult situation, especially to the
leadership of the Adriatic Union and ADRA/Croatia and Slovenia. Special
thanks go to the diaspora churches in Stuttgart, Germany, and Chicago, Illinois.
They sent the first aid for those people who are in great need at the moment.
Our diaspora churches from Australia and other countries expressed their
willingness to help with whatever they can and we are sincerely thankful. We
will make sure that all the help in goods and money will reach people who lost
their possessions,” says Djordje Trajkovski, President of the South-East European
Union, which covers Serbia and Bosnia.
Pray for those people who are suffering and those who
have lost their loved ones.
you are willing to help rebuild damaged churches and homes, and help people who
are in need, please contact Steve Cooper, ADRA/TED Director, by email: [email protected].