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Romania: Meeting of the operative committee for emergencies

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Romania
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Govt. Romania
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We concluded the operative meeting destined to the analysis of the situation of the flood - hit areas and I shall present you the four subjects on which this discussion has been carried on.

The first subject is the hydrological situation. Currently, the waters withdraw in all areas. The critical area which I visited last days in Stanca - Costesti, is in a good situation, both upstream and downstream, the flows are stabilized, are on decrease, but we can clearly say that the danger passed.

This period of waters' withdrawal will last, because of very high volumes of accumulated water. Almost one billion cubic meter of water was accumulated at Stanca - Costesti. Historical flows were registered in Siret basin, that overrun all forecasts considered at the re-shaping of the defense works against floods. Presently, the situation is under control. Special weather forecasts are not envisaged over the ensuing period.

With respect to the infrastructure reconstruction, especially the supply with electricity, action is taken in this field. I can tell you that in this moment, there are seven towns which are not connected and efforts are being made for them to return to normality.

With respect to infrastructure: there is no transport way, road or railway closed. There are two secondary roads and few secondary lines of railway where the reconstruction works will last. The funds we shall earmark will have to be used top reconstruct the local infrastructure, bridges, foot bridges, etc.

The third subject is the unfolding the forces necessary to help the population return to normality. There are teams of ISU, firemen, gendarmes who help at withdrawing water from households and the population to put things in order, return to a normal life. I asked the Interior Minister to maintain these forces in these areas, to assure the people that they are not abandoned.

We have a problem relative to aid management. I am glad that there is at the level of the entire country a large feeling of solidarity and an action of solidarity materialized in the collection of money aid or materials to assist the flood - hit population. I want to tell it once again: the aids will have to be distributed equally to all those in difficulty, and not mainly to localities, which out of circumstantial reasons, have been consistently media covered. I paid visits to the county. There are localities which, unfortunately, could not be reached, and therefore, there was no media coverage. It does not mean that these localities do not exist or people of that area do not have the same needs as those from Saucesti.

Therefore, at the level of each county, MIRA took the decision to set up a center for the collection and distribution of aids, which will have to manage this situation in a responsible and professional way, the very way the issue of the accommodation spaces for the evacuated people is being worked on. I want to thank the citizens, trading companies, ONGs that alongside authorities make an effort in this respect, and this effort is praiseworthy, extremely appreciated by me, as Prime Minister and by citizens as well.

Finally, the fourth element I want to refer - and this is the most important for the ensuing period is house reconstruction.

I know that there is a high level of justified expectation and impatience, for people to get to live under the same roof. I want to tell you that there have been taken emergency measures, this week; we established the technical teams for the evaluation of damage to houses and to the entire infrastructure. I verified that the technical teams are working. The evaluations on the situation of houses - because there are about 800 houses fallen or about to fall.

They will make the evaluations together with the social investigations carried out by the Labor Ministry in order to decide on the type of aid to be offered to every family.

I want to tell once again: for the families made up of elderly who cannot build alone their houses, the central together with local authorities will assume this responsibility. Therefore, we shall rebuild the houses for the elderly. Alike last year, we awarded construction materials to youngsters. The money received in this moment, a minimum sum of 3 million lei (300 RON) which can reach 5 (500 RON), or 8 million lei (800 RON), is a sum not for the houses' reconstruction. It is a sum destined to an emergency aid with humanitarian character for those who lost everything and want to buy a medicine or a towel, etc.

Our effort and attention over the ensuing period will be concentrated on the reconstruction phase. On today's operative meeting, we had a very clear analysis: we are in an emergency situation. We cannot stay and wait according to the procedures stipulated for public procurement which last for 3 months. We are now in the situation in which we have to accommodate some people in winter. Therefore, exceptional measures are taken in emergencies. The Ministry of Development, Public Works and Housing (MDLPL) will immediately make this week an auction through the Romanian Merchandise Stock Exchange for the purchase of building materials to reconstruct houses and we also aim at the repair of the houses that had been only partially affected or damaged by floods. Therefore, MDLPL has this urgent mission. They will have to hire the companies able to participate in the reconstruction of the houses as soon as possible because I do not want the winter to catch people sleeping in tents or in other improvised places.

I want to make myself very clear: currently, there are accommodation possibilities either in schools or in other specially arranged places for those whose houses have been destroyed. Unfortunately, some of them do not want to use these facilities we make available for various reasons (to take care of their animals or of the households) and they do not want to use these spaces.

Therefore, we are not in any case in the situation of telling that we cannot manage the situation. MIRA and the authorities had a prompt and professional intervention. I congratulated them for their intervention. We keep the situation under control, surely, we cannot oblige persons, over the past years, and there had been people who wanted to remain in their demolished house and take care of their remaining assets and refused to use these facilities. We assure them food too. There are of course elderly who do not have relatives, and they will use and benefit of these spaces, but I repeat many people do not want to come in these spaces. It is their sovereign option.

Currently, the houses reconstruction is a priority action for the Government, whereby the central and local authorities. An aid on the part of the local authorities, to assist at the social and technical investigations, in order to determine as soon as possible the needs of any family is welcome.

I shall ask my colleagues, Minister of Interior and Minister of Transports to take the floor if they want it.

Cristian David: The zero priority is the assurance of aids and their fair distribution for the flood- hit persons. The aid should be proportional with the value of damage and they should be fairly distributed to all those affected.

Other priority of the moment is to finalize the social investigations and the technical evaluations. The social investigations should clearly show all the affected persons and the way they will further benefit from our assistance. We make available to the affected persons, until the finalization of houses' repair and reconstruction works, accommodation spaces, either collectively or individually so that this period is easily crossed. These commissions should carry out their activity quickly. It is important for us to have a quicker estimate of the damage at the level of population. The evaluations on the damage registered at the level of socio- economic objectives will be further achieved and the reconstruction of the telecommunication, energy, and transport infrastructure will be achieved with priority.

These are the stage elements. There are priority issues we take into account to assist the population.

Our joint effort, of individuals and authorities, present today is to focus our effort and administrative capacity alongside local authorities towards assisting the population crossing this moment.

Mr. Ludovic Orban: I shall be succinct. According to situation, 111 kilometers of national roads as well as 12 bridges and 4 foot bridges were damaged.

We made the evaluations; they are finalized to a 75% extent. We set finalization deadlines for works; the most advanced deadline is September 30, for the reconstruction of all segments of floods' damaged bridges and foot bridges.

With respect to the value of necessary investments for the reconstruction of these damaged segments, the sum amounts to 37 million lei (RON).

There are five closed secondary lines in the railway sector. Four of them will be open very soon; there is only one problem at a line whose reconstruction is estimated, according to expertise, to 12 millions lei. It is situated at Gura Putnei - Risipitu, where there were serious damages to the respective railway sections. The estimate for the damage remedy amounts to about 13 millions lei.

These figures will probably rise when we finalize the evaluations on all road sections.

Besides the upgrading of the transport infrastructure on national roads and road section, I requested the heads of section to extend all support to local authorities in the procedures of infrastructure reconstruction at county and local level.

PM Calin Popescu - Tariceanu

I want to add few words about the operational center of command where you have been invited. I believe you could have a picture of the development with respect to the management of emergencies, since 2005.

In 2005, we were less prepared and equipped in order to be able to operatively manage such a situation. Today, we received on - line pictures from Radauti - Prut area and not only (we can have pictures of various areas) at the operational center of command, on the basis of the data provided by the country. These are processed and they represent the basis of the operative decision - making. It is an important investment effort because there are correlated the elements related to the management of the situation from river basins, which we receive from ANM, the situation on infrastructure, therefore, all these elements are correlated here, analyzed, processed and optimum decision are made on their basis. I want to point out that such investments enabled us to manage the situation better than in the previous years.

I shall invite you at the command center of the Inspectorate for Emergencies from Ciolpani, to have a perception of investments, efforts that have been made to correctly manage such situations.

Reporter/.../

PM Calin Popescu - Tariceanu

I do not want to comment upon it.

Reporter/.../

PM Calin Popescu - Tariceanu

The technical evaluations? What do you refer to? We have evaluations at infrastructure, house evaluation.

They can last a lot, as they are laborious.

The investigations will close in maximum two days. The teams are in the field and I can tell you that they worked this very weekend too; they probably had a break during Saturday and Sunday. On Monday, when we have an evaluation covering 80% of cases, we shall provide you the elements which already come from territory.

Reporter/.../

PM Calin Popescu - Tariceanu

As of this morning, we permanently have an evaluation. There are 578 destroyed houses plus 228 in danger of collapsing. Therefore, about 800 houses require a repair effort, reconstructions. With respect to evacuated persons, I want to remark on the evolution: if yesterday, at 8.00, there were 3.933 evacuated persons, there about 920 persons are this morning. Their number has therefore decreased more than 4 times. I am aware of the disaster dimension; our efforts are aimed at returning to normal life.

Reporter/.../

PM Calin Popescu - Tariceanu

I would not tell we are confronted with unsolvable problems. The only problem at present is relative to the in force legislation is a certain slowing down with respect to the measures for houses' reconstruction, as we have nevertheless to assure a minimum of procedures. I would like that in the localities with waters' withdrawal, to make available the materials for reconstruction. Out of the administrative and legislative constraints, we cannot do so quickly. It is not a problem of lack of operability, but there are regulations which nevertheless oblige us to the observance of minimum procedures even for emergencies.

Reporter/.../

PM Calin Popescu - Tariceanu

I did not notice that the president referred to the Government's activity. It is a statement I do not comment and we have to further do our job. We are in a very unpleasant situation owing to these floods. Due to today's discussions, the specialists in the weather forecast warn us on the effects of the climate changes. Such situations will repeat. It is clear that in the future, we will try to subscribe to the design and conception of the defense plans for emergencies, taking into account the elements emerging lately.