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Floods took everything

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Libuše Grešáková is coming from the shop. Her bag is empty, she only carries a new potato peeler in her hand. She looks a little distant. She walks slowly with the help of a cane.

“The clothes I wear and this peeler here that I bought on credit is all I have. I don’t even have an ID,” she says quietly. The house, Jeseník nad Odrou number 27 no longer exists. Debris, currant bushes, trees and broken car is all that is left. “They finished demolition on Tuesday,” Libuše Grešáková says.

It is four days after the destructive floods that hit Jeseník nad Odrou in Nový Jičín area the most. Small stream Luha that destroyed houses and took lives is still brown and outside its banks but calm. “Right now we are staying at our daughter’s who has a flat here,” she says. She has no thoughts for building a new home at the moment.

“Our Grandma died on the roof. It’s her funeral tomorrow. We managed to get her out on the roof but she did not live to see the help,” she says. Libuše Grešáková, her husband and 92-year-old mother-in-law waited on the roof for many hours, threatened by the torrent. The rescue boat reached them at sunrise.

Nine demolitions so far
The centre of the village resembles mobilisation. Soldiers are sitting on the steps in front of the shops snacking. Exhausted fire-fighters rest nearby. Trucks keep on passing by. Mud is everywhere and so are the objects that used to have their place elsewhere. A muddy boot, broken chair.

“110 damaged houses, three dead in the floods, three after the floods, 50 evacuated, 10 wounded. Nine demolitions, three partial ones, more are expected,” says Tomáš Machýček, Jeseník nad Odrou mayor. Thousands of trucks will be needed to take away all of the flood debris, he says.

There is much more to do, though. Water damaged three bridges, three foot bridges, sewage and sidewalks. Town hall has been damaged and so were the health centre, restaurants, fire station and other village property.

Village of enclosed destruction
It is difficult to get into Jeseník nad Odrou as there are signs forbidding entry everywhere. Sometimes the signs state the reason too: Water. “Half the road is gone but you can drive around it,” says a road worker past Starý Jičín.

Debris is being cleared wherever one looks. Broken furniture, pieces of wood, debris of pulled down houses. Soldiers are still collecting the remains of dead poultry that water carried around.

At noon local radio announces the names of those entitled to a special first aid compensation of CZK 15,000 distributed by the village. Regional administration promises further help. “We will start paying out CZK 20,000 for every flooded household from the security fund,” said Šárka Vlčková, region spokeswoman.

Dryers drone through houses
The houses that have already been emptied out are now being dried. “We were among the first to clear the house. We picked the dryers in the village,” says a young heavily pregnant woman. At some places they are still only clearing out. People are still washing the floors, streams of clean water wash everything including the walls. Everyone is doing the laundry constantly too.

Rugs and clothes are hanging over the fences that are still standing. Some are covered in decomposing grass. There are almost no children to be seen in the village. Everyone who could took them somewhere less dismal.

Humanitarian aid is being collected in the damaged cultural centre. “I was spared so I’m helping,” says a young woman sorting out clothes, shoes, duvets, bed linen and other things that people bring. Cars of gasmen, electricity services, policemen, fire-fighters, hygienists and Red Cross are criss-crossing the village.

Flood trauma is treated with work
Charita worker from Blansko Anna Králová walks around the scene of destruction with a young colleague. She offers psychological help. She asks people whether they do not need to talk. “Everyone has a different way of dealing with trauma. Many work without break, others sleep. Someone wants to talk about it, someone refuses to talk,” she says.

Král couple, who almost drowned are capable to laugh and talk again. “It came within 10 seconds and I was under water within next 10 minutes. It was a close call but we survived,” says Vojtěch Král, toiling through endless clearing out with the family. They have been at it for five days.

“Water took pieces of concrete but the house will surely last. Repairs, however, will take some six months. Thank god we’re insured,” says Král.

Some are worse off. “A number of houses are not insured. There is also high unemployment rate in the village. We are afraid people will not have money for repairs what would lead to more demolitions,” says the mayor.

He says many people will need a non-refundable financial aid. “CZK 15,000 from the village will not be enough,” he says.

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