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Central and Eastern Europe in brief, 15 Aug 1997

Publication date

In the Czech Republic town of Kostelec, hairdresser Ingrid
Kapperova and her daughter escaped through the attic in their
home when a nearby river burst its banks. Ingrid
was born in the house and has lived all her life there. She has
been receiving aid from the Czech Red Cross Bruntal District
(Northern Moravia) since the beginning of the crisis. "I have no
other choice than getting my birth-house demolished. It is not
safe to live in any more.", she says.
Since the beginning of July, flooding across Central and
Eastern Europe has claimed over 100 lives in the Czech
Republic and Poland. Evacuation alarms continue in certain
localities along the Polish/German border, although some
people have been able to return to their homes in areas where
flood waters are receding. As the extent of the damage and
destruction becomes clearer it is evident that the emergency is
far from over. With over 200,000 people moved from their
homes, tens of thousands are still living in temporary shelters.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent
Societies launched an Emergency Appeal in mid-July, seeking
SFr 6,960,000 to assist 257,000 floods victims.

As flood waters begin to recede in the 16 affected districts in
the Czech Republic, the local populations face new problems,
including a mosquito invasion and the extensive clean-up
operation. Some 16,000 people are still accommodated in
provisional shelters, with the duration of their stay remaining
unpredictable. The start of the new school year will be
postponed for a number of schools in the flooded areas.

Since the start of the disaster in Poland, 665,835 hectares of
arable land have been flooded, of which a quarter are still under
water. Of some 162,500 persons moved from their homes,
more than 37,000 are still living in temporary accommodation.
Estimates put the number of houses and flats damaged or
destroyed at 46,000 - two thirds of the building output for 1996.
It may take several years to repair 3,172 km of roads damaged
by the floods.

Czech Red Cross action: The Czech Red Cross is currently
reassessing needs of vulnerable groups as flood waters begin
to recede. The distribution of relief supplies will continue for the
remainder of this month (August) at least. The National Society
is also involved in running collective centres for people whose
homes were evacuated. These centres will be needed for some
time as the repair and rebuilding of dwellings takes place. The
Czech Red Cross has also coordinated the distribution of 2,100
trucks of relief items collected by Red Cross branches from the
general public.

Polish Red Cross action: In cooperation with Flood Relief
Commissions, the Polish Red Cross continues to identify the
areas where relief is most urgently required. Beneficiary lists
are drawn up with the assistance of local welfare offices and
the National Society's warehouses are being used for the
storage and distribution of relief items. Distribution has begun
of 12,000 food parcels funded by the European Community
Humanitarian Office in response to the International Federation
appeal. The Polish Red Cross is also coordinating the
distribution of goods received from the general public and from
sister Red Cross Red Crescent Societies in response to the