Bulgaria’s floods: Two children still missing, hundreds of volunteers join cleanup effort

Two children were still missing on the morning of June 22, the third day after the floods that brought death and devastation to Bulgaria’s Varna, Dobrich and other areas, while several hundred volunteers were engaged in a Trojan effort to clear up the Asparouhovo district of the country’s largest Black Sea city.

The death toll in Varna was reported at 11 after fishermen found the body of a drowned woman on June 20.

More volunteers were arriving in the area on June 22, joining the reported more than 700 already in Asparouhovo, and the crisis staff urged volunteers to bring their own Wellington boots and spades because locally these had been sold out.

There was also a shortage of gloves and buckets.

The local town hall was being used as an operations centre to hand out tasks to volunteers.

Sufficient food and clothing for those affected by the floods had arrived, according to local media reports. Volunteers were being given masks to protect them from dangerous matter in the dust in the air.

The regional directorate of the national construction supervision office had begun inspections of buildings to record damage. Municipal officials were surveying damage to municipal property.

Nikolai Nikolov, head of Bulgaria’s directorate-general of fire safety and civil protection, said on June 22 efforts of firefighting teams were now being concentrated on the district of Dobrich, including the town and the Albena seaside resort. Forty-two pumps were being used to drain water and further pumps were being sent from the town of Shoumen, he said.

Donations from the public to aid flood victims passed the 500 000 leva (about 250 000 euro) mark on June 21.

Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev, and European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva, inspected flood-hit areas in Varna and Dobrich on June 21.

Plevneliev Georgieva Varna floods June 21 2014

Plevneliev and Georgieva visited the crisis centre and Plevneliev pressed for an urgent plan listing short-term and long-term measures to mitigate the effects of the flooding and prevent further critical situations.

He called for the fastest possible evaluation of the damage and for the design of projects to drain the inundated areas and build and modernise the sewerage network, to be financed from EU resources.

Georgieva called for updating of action plans for dealing with disasters, not only in Bulgaria.

“We must be aware that the world has changed. Climate changes in our region are expressed mainly in the more and more fierce floods and forest fires. What we done before is no longer enough, and this applies not only for Bulgaria, but everywhere. Therefore it is very important to evaluate the risks and know how well we can cope with them,” she said.



The Sofia Globe staff

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