20 May 2014

Balkan floods - JRC contributes to emergency preparedness and response

EFAS map of the balkans showing the river pixels with probabilities of exceeding at least 5 year
Screenshots of EFAS forecasts from 12 May 2014
© EU, 2014

On 15 May Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia asked the international community for assistance in their battle against the flooding.

The European Flood Awareness System (EFAS) - developed by the JRC and now part of the Copernicus Emergency Management Service (EMS) - provides European overviews of ongoing and upcoming floods to national hydrological services and to the European Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) operating within the Commission's Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (DG ECHO), which facilitates a coherent European response during emergencies. EFAS started providing national authorities and the ERCC with notifications of upcoming severe flooding conditions in the Balkans region already on 11 May.

In addition, the JRC contributed to European emergency preparedness with actions before and during the crisis. For instance, the JRC´s expert teams provided the ERCC with more in-depth information and daily situation reports and maps, integrating scientific data with impact information into products tailored for civil protection, thus contributing to coordinated actions to mitigate further potential damage in the countries and across borders.

The JRC also coordinates the “Rush Mode Mapping” of the Copernicus EMS and has provided flood extent maps of the affected areas. EMS was triggered by the ERCC on 16 May, first for Bosnia-Herzegovina and then for Serbia, followed by a request from Croatia the next day. The first post-disaster map with flood delineation was delivered on 18 May. Reference maps and flood delineation maps were delivered during subsequent days and they are available at http://emergency.copernicus.eu.
 

Critical floods in the Balkan region

After weeks of persistent wet conditions, the exceptionally intense rainfalls from 13 May 2014 has led to disastrous and widespread flooding in the Balkan Peninsula in south-eastern Europe, in particular Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia. Critical flooding has been reported as well in other countries including southern Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. The events in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia are reported to be the worst in more than 100 years. More than 40 fatalities are estimated so far in both countries and further victims have also been reported in Croatia, the Czech Republic and Poland. More than a million inhabitants are estimated to be affected by the flooding. Both Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina activated the EU Community Civil Protection Mechanism on 15 and 17 May respectively.

Keywords: hazard, flood, alert, crisis
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