December 7 2010

Floods in northern Albania

SOS Children's Villages is helping affected families in Shkodra

06/12/2010 - Torrential rains hit Albania last week causing floods in almost half the country. The situation is worst in the northern part in the region of Shkodra where over 12,000 people are evacuated and over 7,000 houses and living buildings flooded. Families, who are supported by SOS Children's Villages in Shkodra, are also heavily affected and are provided with the most needed supplies.

In addition to the rains, the floods were worsened with the opening of the three dams on the cascade of the overflowing river Drin. The head of the Albanian electrical corporation explained that this move was urged by the high water levels which threatened the safety of the dams, local media report.

This weekend in Shkodra the alarming situation caused panic. Most roads remain submerged in water, electricity is cut off and the people can move around only in small boats. The military and police are engaged in the evacuation process and Albania has requested NATO assistance. The schools and most businesses are closed, local media report.

So far, according to information from the ground, two larger districts in the city have been affected the most. One of the two is the fourth district where SOS Children's Villages runs a family strengthening programme. The SOS co-workers are in constant contact with the families of beneficiaries by phone.

Until now, at least 33 families are heavily affected by the floods. The houses of ten families, some of which have been evacuated and moved to temporary shelters in schools, are up to meter and a half in water, while the rest are located on higher floors, however surrounded by water and unable to leave their dwellings.

The psychological condition of the families is very difficult. Co-workers reported that the parents expressed deep concerns with the emotional conditions of their children most of whom break in tears and experience panic attacks at the sight of rising waters.

According to our co-workers, items such as food, clothes, blankets and medicines are urgently needed. The family strengthening team began supplying these items to our evacuated beneficiaries. Contacts with other NGOs have been made in order to coordinate a larger scale assistance programme and expand the services to more families.