The Slovenia Times

Thousands of volunteers join relief efforts on Solidarity Day

German engineers erect a modular bridge in Mežica. Photo: Boštjan Podlogar/STA

More than 10,000 registered volunteers and thousands more who helped their relatives and friends were on the ground around Slovenia on 14 August to help in the flood relief measures as part of a day off work dubbed Solidarity Day.

Sandi Curk, a regional commander of the Civil Protection, said 11,000-12,000 people who have registered through the national volunteering app were on the ground providing assistance in the flood-affected areas.

The largest number of volunteers gathered in the Upper Savinja Valley and in Koroška, the two regions most severely affected by the early August flooding.

Many people were also reported having volunteers outside the official channels, in particular in areas that were not hit as badly but where people still need assistance with the clean-up.

"It is certain that aid will need to be provided in these areas for a long time, maybe even years," said Petra Bezjak Cirman, the director of the Government Communication Office.

Road access improving

Access to many places remains difficult, the flooding having damaged many roads and bridges and deposited debris on roadways. The Infrastructure Ministry says 16 state roads are still closed, and partial closures are in force on 60 sections.

But some much needed relief was brought to the Meža Valley in the north of the country, where two bridges were set up and opened for traffic - one in Mežica by the Slovenian and Macedonian armed forces, and one in Prevalje by the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW).

"This aid from Germany is very important for us. In addition to being symbolic ... it also mean a great relief for traffic," Defence Minister Marjan Šarec said as he attended the opening of both bridges.

New emergency law in the works

Prime Minister Robert Golob, who visited the flood-stricken town of Komenda, some 20 km north of Ljubljana, announced that the government would discuss a proposal for additional flood relief measures on 17 August.

He said any suggestions about how the government could help were welcome, noting that 10,000-15,000 households had been affected, and that those who had lost everything needed to be helped first.

While an aid scheme for business and farmers has already been adopted, the government will now "discuss proposals that specifically concern individuals and combine them in an emergency law," Golob said.

More aid arriving

In addition to the work on the ground, donations in the form of funds and equipment also keep pouring in both from Slovenia and abroad.

The Slovenian Red Cross has received five vehicles from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to facilitate the access of its teams to the affected areas. The Dacia Duster vehicles will be in use for six months.

In the past ten days, the national Red Cross associations from Croatia, Austria, Hungary and Poland came to the aid of the Slovenian counterparts, and other national associations ave offered and are still offering help, the organisation said.

An aircraft of the Polish Armed Forces touched down in Ljubljana airport bringing 33 pallets of humanitarian aid worth EUR 80,000. The donation by the Polish Caritas includes 25 dehumidifiers and a variety of other equipment.


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