Czech Republic – Floods Devastate Region, Worst Disaster in History
Natural and Personal Disasters
by Sue Schumann –
What’s been called “the worst flooding in the history of Europe” left more than 40 dead in the Czech Republic, with thousands homeless. Affecting a country the size of Ohio, this regional disaster impacted the whole nation; it also provided the first opportunity for The Salvation Army to minister there through its disaster relief services.
According to Josef Korbel Hostel Director Captain Richard Huntley, a Western officer stationed in Brno, who has assisted with coordinating relief efforts, “This nation doesn’t have many natural disasters. People simply aren’t prepared for a tragedy like this.”
Since the floods hit, The Salvation Army has been on the scene providing food, water, blankets and clothing to victims. Many of those supplies resulted from a plea for donations by Brno corps officer Lt. Premek Kramerius, broadcasted on local radio and TV stations.
Western officers Colonels Bill and Gwen Luttrell, also in Brno, assisted in transporting relief supplies to the town of Olomouc.
Three Salvation Army programs suffered in the flooding as well. Its hostel for homeless people in Ostrava was flooded, with relocation of clients necessary. Coincidentally, Major Colin Hunt, the Army’s leader in the Czech Republic, was visiting that area before the floods hit and was left stranded in his hotel in Ostrava. Communicating via his cellular phone, he was able to assess local damages and relay that information to other Army units.
In Kirov, the hostel was flooded, with major damage. The day center was also flooded, but was able to be cleaned up.
In addition to providing food, water, clothing, and cleaning supplies, Salvationists are also providing counseling. “These people not only need the physical support The Salvation Army can supply,” said Colonel Gwen Luttrell, “they need the spiritual support that Salvationists can offer as well.”
She noted two elderly women who were transported to shelter in a Salvation Army van. “In only a few hours, they lost their homes, their belongings–even their livelihood, as their chickens and rabbits drowned and their vegetable patch was submerged under eight feet of water. My heart goes out to them.”