The flooding in the Balkans is the worst that the area since records began 120 years ago. (SOS Children's Villages)
(5/20/2014): SOS Children's Villages has begun relief efforts in the Balkans, where just more than a week ago the biggest natural disaster the area has ever seen occurred. At least 24 people have lost their lives and 25 percent of the population has no access to drinking water because of the devastating floods.
Thousands have been evacuated from their homes without a return date in sight.
Since Monday (5/19), the SOS Children's Village in Gracanica has been accommodating families from flood-affected areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Among them is the family of 13-year-old boy Abid.
"I'm so happy my mom and little brother are safe," Abid said.
His mother and two-year-old brother escaped from their hometown, close to the Sava River, a day before it was completely submerged by water.
The areas along the Sava River were among the worst hit. In Croatia, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the floods have destroyed more than 100,000 homes. Experts say the damage will take at least five years to repair.
Emina and her three boys found refuge at an SOS Village when flooding forced them from their home. (SOS Children's Villages)
Emina, Abid's mom, was evacuated with her youngest son and parents. Emina was not in good health when the flooding began and struggled greatly. She was hospitalized for two days after being evacuated.
Abid followed the news reports and his mom's whereabouts the entire time, calling her several times a day.
Once his mom was released from the hospital, Abid asked if she and his brother could come to the SOS Village.
Alma, an SOS Children's Villages worker, welcomed the family to the SOS Village.
"Abid's birth mother loves her children very much, but her health condition is delicate and she can't cope with their growing needs. We are all relieved they are safe and will make sure they can stay here for as long as needed,” Alma said.
On Monday, Abid was so excited to bring his mom and brother to safety.
"I am relieved and thankful to be here," Emina said. "I am so happy to be with all my children. Our house is completely flooded. It will take a while until we'll be able to even get to it. The other people from our town won't be able to get to their houses soon either."
Urgent: Help Needed Now
The flood waters in Bosnia and Herzegovina are receding, leaving behind piles of mud, destroyed land and dead livestock. As the weather gets warmer, the population faces the danger of infectious outbreaks.
SOS Children's Villages is launching emergency programs in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia this week. The first wave will consist of urgently needed resources like bottled water, canned food, diapers, disinfectants, cleaning supplies, rubber boots, and gloves.