Following torrential rain, floods in Romania have left 24 people dead and forced 7,000 people to evacuate their homes and farms in the north and east of the country. Footage taken in the north from the worst affected regions shows fields, roads and houses still submerged and children struggling to rescue stranded animals.
The Interior Minister, Vasile Blaga, has stated that while thousands of policemen continue to help with flood defences and the evacuation of homes, the damage left in the wake of the floods will be considerable. Losses could equate to more than 0.6% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), which will come as a huge financial burden, when Romania’s economy shrank over 7 percent last year and spending cuts are already having an impact on jobs and growth. The country’s GDP is forecast to drop between 1-2 percent this year. Therefore the Romanian government has already lodged a request for financial assistance from the EU’s Solidarity fund, set up to supply member states with emergency aid in the event of natural disasters and with an annual budget of one billion Euro. As the second poorest country in the EU, Romania will need as much help as it can get. The floods have already caused wide scale damage, affecting roads and infrastructure, with dozens of villages left without power as pylons were swept down. And the overflowing rivers are thought to have deluged around 2 million hectares of land, with the loss of an estimated 6.7 million tonnes of wheat.
This is not the first time Romania has been severely affected by flooding. In 2005, 31 people died in widespread floods, which swathed through central European countries. And in 2006, the Danube surged to levels which had not been seen for a century, forcing people to seek shelter in schools and hospitals, sometimes bringing their poultry and livestock with them. This year, Mr Blaga warned that the Danube has already exceeded the highest levels recorded in 2006 around the towns of Galati and Braila and flood warnings remain in place along the regions of the river basin. In the south, the river has broken its banks, leaving some areas under more than 20 feet of water.
This disaster follows similar floods in recent weeks in Poland, though thanks to a new Polish-German Youth Cooperation organisation, (the PNWM in Polish), nearly three thousand Polish children from inundated areas were invited to stay with German families and in German schools and community centres, proving that it’s not only huge political organisations like the EU, which can provide assistance to children in emergencies.