Monday 28 June 2010 started as any other day in Dorohoi. There had been a lot of rain during the previous two weeks leaving the ground sodden and that day didn't start any differently; humid and rainy. However, that night changed the lives of many in the town and the look of the town forever.
It grew very dark in the early evening and, according to official figures, three to four months rain fell in the Dorohoi area in two hours. The river Gigia which winds its way through Dorohoi, already higher than usual because of the previous rain, burst its banks and flooded several different areas in the town. One of the worst areas was the road at the end of Str. George Enescu where the Centre is and where many of our families come from. People only had about ten minutes warning before a three to four foot "wall of water" came from nowhere sweeping through the old houses, bursting through the windows and doors and many of the old houses both private and "town" succumbed to the flood and either collapsed or had to be demolished later. Our cooks, Ana and Ami were amongst those affected, and Ami's parent's house had to be demolished. In another part of town, the houses next to the sewage works were flooded with "dirty" water.
The week following the flash floods....
Left - the day after the flood with a family standing "dazed" outside what is left of their house and belongings.
Right - the same house two weeks later. Even the bed could not be salvaged.
.........people were desperately trying to clean their houses and salvage what possessions they had but everything was covered in thick mud. People were sleeping in the schools, hospital or other public buildings and then coming back to their homes, sitting with anything they thought they could use again, not knowing what to do or what would happen. Towards the end of the week, bulldozers were coming round and simply tipping clothes, broken furniture etc into trucks and taking it away. With the humidity and standing water, there was a real risk of disease so nurses were coming round giving injections for typhoid, hepatitis and tetanus.
Help for all those affected....
We didn't have any electricity at the Centre until Wednesday evening and as Ami and Ana had their own homes to deal with, we were unable to prepare meals as normal but the German charity on the outskirts of Dorohoi (who were unaffected) prepared pasta or soup for us to distribute at the Centre to anybody who had been affected whether registered with us or not. Many people needed someone to talk to and everyone had their own story. There were many rumours that the dam would burst and every time more rain was forecast or came, there was a tangible atmosphere of terror.
Two days after the floods, we had a group of eight 16 year olds, together with three teachers from St Benedicts College in N. Ireland visiting the Centre and they were so helpful. They brought and helped to distribute food, water, camping style gas rings, gas for bottles, flip flops, underwear and socks. On Saturday, 5 days after the flood, the group arranged a "fun day" for the children at the Centre with lots of toys, games and a picnic. The first children arrived at 9.30am and the last ones left at 9.30pm! It was just what the children needed......
The current situation....
About two weeks after the flood, aid was starting to arrive from the Romanian Government, and, churches and other large Charities in and outside Romania and people started to get overwhelmed with food, water and clothes.
We felt it appropriate to revert back to our normal level of help at that time of year so that in the Autumn and Winter when this help finished and the workers have gone, we picked up again when we anticipated that the needs would be much greater and we were able to provide more meals and food bags, gas refills, medicine costs etc..
Those that lost their homes were temporarily housed in "container" like homes but most lost all their possessions. A year after the flood and many are still in the "containers" with others sharing old state apartments (flats) with one other family.
|The new estate of "state" houses for the flood victims being built on the outskirts of Dorohoi|
Rebuilding started to take place for those who lost houses they owned with help from the State for materials and building costs to a certain value. An estate of "state" houses is being built on the outskirts of town at the other end of Dorohoi to the Centre, and these are being built private firm and a charity "Habitat for Humanity", but many of these seem to be a long way from completion, and it could be next year before they are habitable.
November 2011 - People are now being given the keys to the "state" house which are still in various states of being finished. We understand that one room of each house is totally finished, but they will not be connected to Water Gas and Electricity. They are all fitted with central heating, but gas will not be avilable for connection until spring 2012! Many of those moving in will not have the finance to connect to any of the utilities, and may not even beable to afford the rents!
The official statistics for the flooding in Dorohoi are :
2,800 evacuated from their homes
752 have lost their homes
31 houses collapsed in the flood waters
254 houses demolished were beyond repair