Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Vignettes from the Deluge

The rains have stopped, but the floodwaters have not receded yet. Reports are coming in like the tide - 1,5 million affected, dozens of dead. Enormous property damage includes crops and livestock, which will have an impact on food supply down the line.

Cataclysms bring out the best and the worst in people. Here are just some tidbits that have reached me over the past couple of days.

First, the good. Tens of thousands have volunteered to shore up the levees and save towns like Šabac from suffering the fate of Obrenovac (now completely underwater). Among them were Serbs from Kosovo, the very same people the current Serbian government renounced and tried to force to become "Kosovians". Reports from Bosnia suggest that Serbs and Muslims have banded together to survive the flooding, while Croats - whose strongholds in the south were unaffected - sent rescue teams to help both. Rescue teams from Croatia proper have lent aid to both Bosnia and Serbia.

Macedonians have launched a massive charity drive, collecting some $165,000 over the weekend. They've also collected 20 tons of food, 60,000 liters of drinking water, a ton of baby food, three tons of milk, 1000 blankets, 10 tons of clothing, a thousand pairs of shoes... (source)

Russia has sent several planeloads of rescuers and equipment.  And tennis great Novak Đoković has reportedly pledged the entirety his winnings from the Rome Masters tournament - some $750,000 - towards flood aid.

One daily had a heart-breaking story of a 25-year-old refugee from Kosovo, who lost his entire family in 1999, then lost his wife and 2-year-old son in the flooding. Slobodan Nedeljković "Jumbo" has been on the front lines of flood rescue for days now, drowning his grief in helping others live. (UPDATE: Reports have come in that "Jumbo's" wife and son have been found - but no word whether alive or dead... SECOND UPDATE: They have not been found, and he is still looking...)
"Jumbo" helping the rescuers (via Telegraf)
There is also the bad. On top of the flooding damage, the waters and mudslides have displaced landmines left over from the war. There have been incidents of looting, black-marketeering (selling aid), and price gouging of bread and drinking water. The local authorities in Obrenovac reportedly ordered citizens to stay in their homes - then, after the town got completely flooded and God only knows how many people perished - tried to cover it up.

And then there is the ugly.

Though many member states have already acted to help, the Leviathan in Brussels is acting true to character: the "aid" the EU is promising consists of "experts" and committees. And the American embassy has offered $100,000 - less than the private citizens of tiny Macedonia! And those Russian planes with the rescuers? Reportedly, Ukraine and Romania tried to deny them passage. Not sure why, or on whose orders.

Just as I thought the vast outpouring of solidarity and community spirit in Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia and Macedonia offered a glimmer of hope after almost 25 years of induced despair, comes the word that "Kosovian" soccer fans have sent messages of tolerance and humanity:
From the Drenica-Pristina game of the "Kosovian" league (via Twitter, InSerbia)
Or not.

The floods will end. The devastation they leave behind will be repaired, however long that takes. What will remain is the memory of how people dealt with the cataclysm; of words and deeds, good or ill. Perhaps some of the new-found humanity will persevere when the rivers recede. Here's to hope.


James said...

Keep updating us on the "Jumbo" situation.
Also why isn't the Serbian army doing more? It seems they have a lot of man (and women) power which Serbia isn't putting to use. There's still pets and livestock stranded on the upper floors of apartments. They will die if they are stuck up there without drinking water and food. I also read something regarding hunter's associations saying that there's been a devastating toll on wildlife. The Serbian government needs to put a moratorium on hunting until it can access the health of the populations.

And yes the Albanians (and other Serb haters) are gloating over this. It should galvanize Serbs to help their country and people even more.

Speaking of Albanians, there have been a few days of rioting by Macedonians in Skopje after the murder of an 18-year-old Macedonian (Angel) by an Albanian about the same age. The Albanian (Naser) was stealing a bike from the Macedonian's home when he and his father spotted him and ran after him. The son got there first and was stabbed twice in the heart by the Albanian and already dead by the time his father arrived.

CubuCoko said...

If I find out more, I'll post about it. It's truly a heartbreaking story - and only one of a million or so tragedies that we haven't heard about in detail.

The reason the Serbian army isn't doing more is that there isn't much of an army left, after 15 years of "democratic reforms" (i.e. rule by the Empire's quisling cult). Basically, the army was repurposed to be Empire's auxilliaries in places like Afghanistan, rather than address the issues of Serbian security. This was duly noted by top military analyst (Lazanski), and will no doubt be a factor when it comes time to settle accounts with the quislings.

As for the examples you mentioned... There is a saying in Serbia, "The snow does not fall to cover the hill, but to show the footprints of every beast." Basically, any tragedy will show the true nature of everyone involved, good or ill.