Unprecedented Floods in Slovenia: A Comprehensive Damage Report
Historic Floods Sweep Across Slovenia
Two-thirds of Slovenia, a picturesque small Alpine country, was battered by flash floods in late August, resulting in landslides and claiming the lives of at least three individuals. The nation’s Prime Minister described the event as the “worst natural disaster” in the country’s history. The floods, triggered by torrential rains, caused rivers to swell rapidly, leading to inundated houses, fields, and towns. Reports suggest a month’s worth of rain fell in less than a day, causing widespread devastation, including the destruction of roads, bridges, and homes. Thousands of residents were forced to evacuate, with many requiring rescue by helicopters or firefighters in boats.
Assessing the Damage
The Disaster Relief and Protection Administration in Slovenia has reported over €2.7 billion ($3.14 billion) in damages resulting from the floods. This figure was compiled from more than 23,500 forms submitted via the Ajda application by 173 municipalities. The reported damage includes properties of local economic public infrastructure, residential buildings, items used for municipal activities, and local public services, or those used by a public law entity established by the municipality. Damage to forest roads co-funded by forest management regulations were also taken into account.
The largest portion of the total damage value was on waterways, accounting for over €1.3 billion ($1.52 billion). Significant damage was also reported on buildings, with approximately €500 million ($583 million) worth of damage reported on over 12,000 buildings. It is important to note that this data is preliminary and will be reviewed by regional and state commissions. It does not include economic costs, intervention costs, and rehabilitation costs of the sectors.
Mobilizing Relief Efforts
The Slovenian government has been proactive in orchestrating relief efforts, deploying the country’s army to assist in the affected areas. Alongside this, the Disaster Relief and Protection Administration will forward the collected data to regional commissions for review and preparation of the final estimate. This comprehensive damage estimate is vital for Slovenia’s application for funds from the EU Solidarity Fund, which must be submitted within 12 weeks of the flood.
Funds amounting to €222 million ($259 million) have been reserved for prepayments to municipalities. These municipalities are entitled to prepayments up to 40% of the preliminary damage estimate, provided the damage is estimated at at least €20,000 ($23,300). The upper payment limit is twice the appropriate expenditure of each municipality.
International Support and Climate Change Implications
The European Union has pledged to mobilize support for Slovenia in the wake of this disaster. Ursula von der Leyen, President of the EU Commission, expressed her solidarity with the Slovenian people and assured them of the Union’s support. This disaster comes after a series of weather-related calamities across Europe, prompting scientists to warn that climate change will likely cause extreme precipitation or flash flooding in certain parts of the globe.
These floods, the worst in Slovenia’s history, serve as a stark reminder of the need for more suitable policies for spatial planning to mitigate the negative consequences of floods. A study on the socio-economic impacts of river floods in the European Union in view of climate and socio-economic changes stressed that European countries, including Slovenia, would potentially have to spend a significant share of their current gross domestic product to abate future impacts from flooding.
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