Richard Kruspe of Rammstein. I filmed the entire Rammstein show in Belgrade, but this is the only photo that turned out somewhat well, as I was taking photos only inbetween songs. But hey, he’s the guitarist AND the frauenschwarm.
Beogradjani sutra u Arenu H I T N O,falice ljudi,dolaze evakuisani i veoma je bitno da budu zbrinuti,znam da idete u skolu,posao,fax al posle toga molim vas u Arenu svi! Znam da sam vas smorila sve ali sta cu.. #prayforserbia
As Waters Recede, Serbia’s Worries Turn to Disease
By Rick Lyman, NY Times, May 21, 2014
OBRENOVAC, Serbia–For five days, as rain pelted the Balkans and the waters rose, Jovanka Sreckovic, 85, waited in bed in her tiny house, barely a hut, beside the Sava River. Ms. Sreckovic, unable to walk, had no food, no water, no medicine and no electricity, and felt herself sinking into sickness with nothing but a children’s book about Jesus to pass the time.
And then, on Saturday, a squad of frantic police officers from neighboring Montenegro bashed in her front door and snatched her away so fast that she had no time to grab a pair of shoes. She even had to leave her precious cat, Rosa, behind.
“I had not been able to get out of my bed, even to look outside,” said Ms. Sreckovic, a retired schoolteacher. “So I was shocked to see that the water had come to within a few yards of my front door. I would have drowned in less than an hour.”
The worst of the waters have receded, for the moment, even here in the Serbian town hit hardest by the record-smashing floods. But with temperatures in the mid-80s and rising, concerns are now shifting to an almost inevitable outbreak of disease in the coming weeks.
“We are preparing ourselves for the worst,” Zlatibor Loncar, the Serbian minister of health, said in an interview on Wednesday. “It could be pretty bad.”
Contaminated water has covered homes, towns and fields, turning much of Serbia’s most fertile agricultural region into a poisonous stew of toxic chemicals, rotting carcasses and disease-carrying insects. So far, there have been no epidemic outbreaks, the health minister said, but that will almost certainly change–intestinal ailments, respiratory infections, skin diseases, hepatitis, perhaps worse.
“That is what is going to happen,” he said. “We can’t predict what kind of disease, but if people return to their homes too soon, as many will, before the contaminated areas can be cleaned, it will naturally come to that.”
Ms. Sreckovic was one of the last to be evacuated from her village, in a final military truckload of the elderly. By Wednesday, she was resting comfortably on a mattress in the Kombank Arena, Belgrade’s gleaming sports and concert facility, which has been transformed into an evacuation center. Young doctors and nurses, all wearing surgical masks and rubber gloves–just a precaution, they said–were walking through the grid of sleeping figures on their battered mattresses, surrounded by sad piles of soiled possessions.
Ms. Sreckovic clung to her walking stick, a plate of oranges and that same children’s book, “Where the Lord Lives.” But at least she is getting her medicine again.
“I am so worried about Rosa,” she said, melting into tears. “I don’t know what happened to her. She is my only friend. Maybe she is in the attic?”
Efforts this week to safeguard the massive Nikola Tesla power plant outside Obrenovac, which supplies nearly half of the country’s electricity, appear to have been successful. But there are worries that a second wave of flooding will hit the region by Friday, perhaps inundating some of the towns and villages that are just now beginning to dry out.
The second wave, which is not expected to be as huge as the first–the largest since records began to be kept 120 years ago–could still be devastating. It will be caused by a mass of water moving down the Danube from Germany and Austria, which had heavy rainfall from the same system that socked the Balkans.
The powerful Danube is expected to handle the flow with ease. But its passage is likely to cause the Sava and other tributaries to back up yet again.
That is why Gen. Ljubisa Dikovic, the Serbian military chief of staff, has spent the last five days taking personal command of efforts to reinforce a 15-mile sandbag wall outside Sabac, which, with 120,000 residents, is the largest city in the region. Sabac is also home to a huge Elixir Zorka chemical plant built right on the river, which, if overrun, could spill agricultural minerals and toxic fertilizers into the city.
A drive through the chemical plant, where a skeleton crew struggled to pump water back into the river, showed that most of the facility was flooded, but that its most dangerous chemicals were still safe in tanks built a few yards above ground level.
General Dikovic swatted at swarms of mosquitoes as he stood atop the levee and watched more than 2,000 workers–soldiers, foreign relief workers and volunteers from nearby towns–pile a fresh layer of sandbags to reinforce those that have grown waterlogged and useless. Already, more than a million sandbags have been placed on this single two-mile stretch of the wall. Still, water was seeping beneath the levee and spreading into nearby corn and wheat fields.
“The dripping from the sponge has to be stopped,” the general declared. “After we have had this flooding already, to have Sabac flooded would be a catastrophe.”
Here in Obrenovac, the main park is still underwater, as are the surrounding houses and apartment blocks. The town’s soccer stadium, too. Only the tops of flamingo-necked streetlights peek above the water line.
Obrenovac is an eerie ghost town now, many of its streets finally drying out, but hundreds of houses still submerged and probably never to be inhabited again.
Still, Serbia’s interior minister, Nebojsa Stefanovic, on the job just three weeks, said he was proud of the work the local teams had done in pumping water, evacuating citizens and building barricades.
“We have managed to stop three rivers in their tracks,” he said.
Now, though, the hard work begins. At least 2,100 miles of roads were damaged in the floods, the minister said, plus untold numbers of homes, bridges, rail lines, schools, hospitals. It will take years, and billions of dollars, to rebuild.
Ivica Dobrojevic, an architect in Sabac who was among the thousands to heed the call to help, rested wearily beside a stack of sandbags beside the Sava. Despite the scope of the disaster, he found himself encouraged.
“I had almost given up for the future of our country, because everyone was in apathy, concerned only about themselves,” said Mr. Dobrojevic, 42. “But now, no one is asking who you are or where you come from, not even the young people. There is unity now. Something has woken everybody up.”