Floods hit Albania, damage hundreds of homes and businesses

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times December 2, 2017 14:01

Floods hit Albania, damage hundreds of homes and businesses

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  • The state's special commission for civil emergencies said the floods had been widespread and across the country, but the most problematic areas were in the southern regions

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TIRANA, Dec. 2 – Torrential rains and the resulting floods have wreaked havoc across Albania, causing the evacuation of hundreds of people and damage to infrastructure, homes and businesses. At least one person has died.

Heavy rains that started Thursday evening are expected to end on Monday, but with waterways and land at saturation point, there could be more flooding before things get better, meteorologists said.

Albania’s armed forces have joined civil emergency and police forces in evacuating and housing nearly 200 families.

Officials said about 3,300 homes and families were affected by the floods.

About 6,000 people have joined the rescue efforts, with army helicopters and vehicles being deployed to assist.

The state’s special commission for civil emergencies said the floods had been widespread across the country, but the most problematic areas were in the southern regions of Gjirokastra, Korca, Vlora, Fier and Berat.

Several rivers – Vjosa, Osum, Seman and Shkumbin – are overflowing their banks, flooding nearby buildings and destroying or damaging bridges.

Road maintenance officials said most of the national highways had been reopened after the worst floods on Friday, but warned drivers not to take trips that were not absolutely necessary. Much of the intercity bus system had been affected as the roads were made difficult to navigate due to high water and landslides caused by torrential rains that brought more water in three days than those areas get in a typical month.

The main highway linking Tirana to Durres was opened after a 20-hour blockage due to mud and debris blocking the road near the City Park Mall, which was also entirely flooded, stranding tens of people in the second flood until rescuers were able to reach them.

At least 250 people remained stranded overnight with their vehicles in the Tirana-Durres highway, the country’s busiest road. The road reopened after authorities were able to get all the vehicles stuck on the highway removed.

Downtown Tirana did not see any flooding but municipal authorities have warned residents to conserve potable water as the main reservoir that supplies water to the city, Bovilla, has been polluted by mud due to the rain and it had to be taken offline until the waters clear and water processing unit can be brought back online.

Tirana Mayor Erion Veliaj said he believes the worst is over for Tirana and that investments in improving infrastructure had paid off in several places, including the Tirana River, where the municipal authorities had invested in improving the riverbed and in moving residents away from flood prone areas.

Floods are a common occurrence in Albania, and there is an ongoing debate on what can be done infrastructure wise to make sure they don’t cause a lot of damage. However, this year’s floods are as bad as the worst years in recent history, 2015 and 2010, experts said.

 

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Tirana Times
By Tirana Times December 2, 2017 14:01