Monday, May 26, 2014

Flooding and more

As most of you know, the Balkans have had huge rains and rising rivers, especially Bosnia and Serbia.  They say the rivers are at a 120 year high level.  And although we saw the river rise last year, we are amazed this year how much more it rose. All cities that are adjacent to one of the large rivers have 16 foot earth dikes built along the river to stop flooding.  However, some of the small towns along smaller waterways do not have dikes and it is those towns that really flooded and had mudslides.  They were really worried about Sremska because the water level was coming up fast and near the top of the dike.  So one night bus loads of men arrived,  I mean over a thousand men, and they had sand and bags brought in and built a 5 mile sandbag addition to the top of the dike.  And not just on this side of the river, but on both sides.  It truly was amazing.  Alan went down to help fill sandbags for our friend Ivan and his dad because their house backs the dike. Ivan told the workers he was from Sweden because he was worried that he would get harassed because he is American. (Many really do not like Americans) Woman were basically not allowed to help.  (Heavens, this is man's work)  People here were very nervous and they evacuated several blocks by the river on both sides. Nemanja and his family were sent to a school further inland.  Our apartment building was in the evacuation area but since we are on the third floor, we stayed in and watched the city below.  The Orthodox church and Catholic churches offered prayers and our whole mission fasted and prayed that God would temper the elements.  And Sremska was blessed, the rains subsided and the water did not go over the banks.  I know it must have been our missionaries prayers that made the difference :o).............
Everywhere you looked, there were men filling and placing sandbags

The wall of sandbags went on for 5 kidding!

That is the tops of trees that you see.

The water is at the top of the 16 foot dike

Entrance to restaurant that is about 13 feet above river
Because of the possible flooding, ofcourse they cancelled school but the interesting thing is that the next week the weather was good and the river waters were going down but they did not start school again.  School will start tomorrow, about 10 days after any danger of flooding.  Also they closed the big major grocery stores for 6 days....just in case.

People did not want to allow the missionaries to volunteer but finally the humanitarian missionaries were able to convince the Red Cross to allow the "male" missionaries from Belgrade to come.  It has been helpful because they have answered many questions about the church and handed out several BOMs.  The mission President hopes that there will be more opportunities to volunteer when they start clean up after clearing land mines that have been displaced. 

Well enough about the flood....on a Sat. in the middle of the flood preparations we had a scheduled morning to put humanitarian kits together.  So we went ahead and poor Nemanja had been up all night filling sandbags but he came.  We had only three members show up so we missionaries and the 3 members put together hygiene and school kits for the special needs school.
Our sweet hardworking members...Drangan, Zivan and Nemanja.
We had some extra hygiene kits and we gave them to a group that Dragan belongs too, which is the Kosovo Refugee organization and the leaders of this group came on Activity night to thank the church.
Nemanja, Dragan and Sladjana are some of the leaders because they are refugees from Kosovo
I know this blog is going on forever...but it is our journal, so bear with me....

Because of the floods and evacuation, we had to cancel church on Sunday May 18th.  But it was heartwarming yesterday when we had 27 to church.  We had several visitors (people who have not yet allowed missionaries to teach them the lessons...usually English students or curious friends of members) and two investigators.  We also have a new Sister from California who took our Sister Matthews place who had knee problems and is now serving in the mission office.
Sister Palmer and Sister Sturtevent...Sister Palmer (after 10 months) will be transferred...probably this week.

I will finish with our "Only in Serbia" moment!  In Belgrade there are several buildings that were bombed during the war.  The Serbians have kept these buildings "as is" as a monument and reminder of what the Americans did to them. They are truly eye sores.  They forget that our government called and warned them about the bombing and then bombed at night when the buildings were hopefully empty.  (oops, I didn't mean to make it sound like bombing are OK)
Government building in the middle of downtown Belgrade.
Well enough for this week...we are starting to try and think ahead to cleaning, sorting, packing as we get ready to come home.  But it is difficult.  I find myself crying whenever I think about it.  These sweet people have become our Serbian family and we can't imagine leaving them.  It will be soooo hard!

1 comment:

  1. Indeed. And I admire all those folks for their resilience in the face of all disasters, both natural and man-made. Floods have their special kind of menace, though. That is why we should always watch out for them, and make sure that our properties and assets are amply insulated from the woeful impacts they may bring.

    Charlena Leonard @ Weidner Law