The heavy rainfalls of the past few days have severely affected eastern Romania, and the way in which authorities handled the situation was criticised by President Klaus Iohannis.
Romania is struggling with floods, after heavy rainfalls have caused substantial damage over the past few days, particularly in the east of the country. Code red, orange and yellow alerts were issued, regarding several rivers in the area. The waters damaged hundreds of households, and train traffic was disrupted, with delays of tens of minutes.
The worst situation was reported in the city of Galati, in the south-east, where nearly 1,700 people were evacuated, as a precaution, and a code red alert was issued. The city asked for assistance from the military, and Bucharest decided to send troops equipped with high-power water pumps. However, at a meeting focusing on the management of disaster risks held in Bucharest, President Klaus Iohannis criticised the response of the authorities. He said the procedures, rules and actions in such cases must be a lot clearer and argued that things could have been different if an upstream dam had been built, if people had been instructed not to build their homes close to the stream bed and if ditches had been cleaned. Klaus Iohannis:
“In many cases, the role of each authority is unclear, more authorities step in and fail to coordinate their interventions, and this creates chaos and confusion, and instead of an orderly action plan able to solve the problem as quickly as possible, we have inefficient measures. There have been very successful actions, in the past, both from the Emergency Response Inspectorate and from the police and all other authorities, but there are also examples of failed procedures. However, if the management outlines procedures and practices that are very clear and easy to follow, then we will certainly see more successful measures and fewer failures.”
Weather experts warn that the floods reported these days are the effects of climate change, triggered by global warming. Climatologist Roxana Bojariu told Radio Romania that in such cases local and central authorities must be able to refer to procedures and action plans that are adapted to the new environmental factors:
“The development of a town or village, as well as the management of local resources, should be planned in such a way as to make sure that the risk of casualties or material damage in case of extreme weather is reduced. In this particular instance, besides cleaning stream beds, shelterbelts should have been in place to keep the water coming down the slopes, at least in part. There are indeed weather phenomena that we cannot predict or prevent. The amount of rainfall was significant. But at least we could have mitigated the effects.”
Roxana Bojariu also pointed out that educating people for the management of natural disasters is another key element in such cases.
(Translated by A.M. Popescu)