The Berkovitsa flood - 4 and 5 September 2014


September 4, 2014, Thursday. By the Feast of the town of Berkovitsa 8 September - Nativity of the Most Holy Mother, there are 4 more days left, but the announced holiday program starts on September 5 at 17.30. It's raining all day. Little disturbance is seen among the residents whose homes are along the Berkovska River, because water is sinking through heavy rainfall in the ground floors of the houses. Elderly residents of Begovitsa say: "When the bar begins to climb, the bar is raised." Indeed, the level of water in the otherwise calm river is rising, but no one suspects that there is a disaster that is not remembered in the city. The poured 50 liters per square meter, the city's terrain and the large slopes of the slopes greatly increase the water catchment area of ​​the river. A tidal wave of 2.5 meters swells half of a two-storey house located on the very bank of the river. There are 4 families living there - a total of 9 people who are saved, but leave without even getting their top clothes. In the muddy waters of the river their workshop goes with all the machines. Another uninhabited house was destroyed and about 70 others were flooded, courtyards, ground floors, shops and low-rise buildings with farm animals, technics and firewood. Three bridges are impassable and the last of them, in Zaryanitsa, London, looks like a horror movie. The bridge is covered with debris from buildings, stones up to 0.5 tons, mud, trees, cables. The asphalt pavements on two streets were destroyed. The central water supply is interrupted, the power plant is flooded. A large part of the city remains without water and electricity. A state of emergency is declared. For people in endangered houses, evacuation sites are designated, but some go to relatives and relatives, and others refuse to leave their homes. The residents of Sinchets and Elin Pelin Street suffered the most damage. In the bc. "Dishwasher" the road that is between bl. No. 6 and the river is halfway across. The people in the block see a real danger for the collapse of the five-story building. Right there the river makes a turn and brings stones that undermine the shore. Damages from the disaster include fire safety teams and the protection of the population. There are many volunteers with their own equipment, excavators and fadroms that clean up debris and expand the riverbed and the river to allow the water to return again.

The celebrations on the occasion of the city's celebration were canceled.

There are no injuries to the disaster - such is the statistics. But statistics are devoid of feelings. It does not include fear, terror, grief, despair. Three months later one of the owners of the demolished house died on Sinchets Street, which is failing to recover from the horror. To dozens of other lives is changing.

For the reasons that led to the disaster people blame local authorities. The river bed has not been cleaned for 15 years. There are no retaining walls built, and the forest is cut in bulk. Natural disasters and human negligence have led to the tragedy that took place in Berkovitsa on September 4 and 5, 2014 for months. For months, a retaining wall has been built on the most problematic sections of the river, and the government's promise is a complete reconstruction of the riverbed.

Then follows a first-person narrative of Ms. Rosella Petrova - a long-time teacher of physical education and sport, former Deputy Director of Ivan Vazov School in Berkovitsa and a current educator in the school. By telling what happened, she is experiencing the events of 4 and 5 September 2014 again.

"I was not working on September 4, I do not remember why, maybe I was still relaxing. It was raining all day and not stopping, but there had been such rains another time. I live by the river. Our house is the last on the street, which is perpendicular to the street "Sinchets". My son who worked in Sofia was here and I had a housework all day. Somewhere around 20 o'clock we started to hear some hum, as if a big truck was working in one place or as if stones were falling. I went out onto the terrace and saw something that I stammered. The river had turned into a turbulent sea. We went out with my husband to the yard and we were shocked. The water level had risen and the river had come almost to our fence, or else there was 13 meters between it and the fence - a municipal place much lower than our yard. The other beach is much lower and the water has flooded lands that people use for gardens. The river had expanded by 50-60 meters. The water slowed. There were trees, stones, sheets. We stood on the shore and saw large pieces of land disappearing before us. The water was beating at the shore, undermining it, and then, like a knife, the cut ground was swallowed by the water. It was terrible, I can not describe it, but now I'm talking shuddering. I did not know what to do, went home and started searching for papers, taking some things of necessity. Our house is 6-7 meters from the river and I did not know what would happen after a while. I did not know where that water came from, it did not rain so hard, I did not understand what was happening at the moment. I left the prepared envelopes and went with my husband up the street "Sinchets". Then we saw running people and we started to understand what was going on. The water came suddenly. She carried half of a two-story house on a river bend, along with many workshops, garages, temporary buildings, and firewood. There was not much water flowing along Sinchets Street as it ran in the rain. Everyone ran, helped their neighbors with whatever they could. The people from the destroyed house stood and watched their home disappear. Volunteers came in with their own equipment, a excavator and a fadrom that tried to break the waterway, because it was still a little left to go down the street of Sinchets, and then I did not think what could happen. At the end of the street is our house that would be right against the water. There were sacks of sand from the commune, but no effect. A concrete slab of a garage disappeared for seconds in the water. The other slab leaned and it seemed to retain the water, and its strength was already diminishing. We realized the danger was passing. All night we did not sleep, it kept raining, and we were taking what we could. When we saw the real tragedy. The water had fallen, but the bed of the river had shifted. People walked along the river and searched for their belongings, others helped neighbors, others had gathered in front of the half-demolished house, and stacked the rest of the unrelated things through the terraces in the maker's bucket. We understood what had happened in the upper part of the city. There were teams of firefighters and rescuers on the spot, the media had come and shot. "

When asked whether photos were taken during the disaster, Mrs. Rosella Petrova replied that the last thing she would think about at this point is taking pictures. She finished with the words that she had never experienced such horror and hoped to be the first and last time.

Two years later we went to the river. She was the little river we all knew. There were huge stones on the shores, somewhere unknown. No complete reconstruction of the riverbed has yet been carried out. Money is waiting. I hope they will come before the next disaster.

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