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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

The highest rainfall in 40 years. Hundreds of Austrians cannot return home

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The effects of the storms and floods that hit the south and east of Austria over the weekend are being removed. Losses are initially estimated at at least five million euros. The government, non-governmental organizations and private individuals got involved in helping the victims.

Downpours and violent storms affected almost all towns in the state of Styria in southern Austria and a large part of the Burgenland region. They not only caused local floods, but also brought hail storms and triggered many mudslides. As a result of the heaviest rainfall in 40 years, several thousand houses, as well as agricultural fields and farm buildings, were flooded.

In Styria alone, nearly 5,000 firefighters took part in rescue operations, while in Burgenland, 194 units, i.e. over 3,800 firefighters, rushed to help flood victims. According to information published by local authorities, several hundred evacuated people still cannot return to their homes, which are at risk of collapse.

Losses of at least five million euros

According to preliminary, very conservative estimates, losses in the regions affected by the disaster amount to at least five million euros. At the same time, the Austrian authorities emphasize that this is certainly not the final result. This is due to the fact that in many, especially smaller towns, public administration employees started assessing the damage only in the second half of the week.

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Another factor that may affect the amount of losses is looting. For example, in Unterschuetzen in Burgenland, local authorities have banned entry to the town until further notice. Only its residents, emergency services and armed forces are allowed in the city. As representatives of local authorities explain, looters appeared in Unterschuetzen over the weekend and not only collected items from the streets, but also broke into houses whose inhabitants had been evacuated.

Flooded houses in the commune of Deutschfeistritz in the state of StyriaReuters

The clean-up operation is hampered by seriously damaged infrastructure. In the district of Oberwart in the state of Burgenland alone, several bridges were swept away by the rising waters. The A9 motorway remains closed near Uebelbach, where a mudslide has blocked both lanes and destroyed part of the road.

Help from the government, non-governmental organizations and private individuals

On Monday, the state mayor of Burgenland, Hans Peter Doskozil (SPOe – Social Democratic Party of Austria), announced quick and comprehensive financial assistance for flood victims. The government of this state has adopted special guidelines for support in the event of natural disasters. The amount of funding for private households to repair damage has been increased from €70,000 to a maximum of €150,000 gross. – New special guidelines provide for reimbursement of up to 100 percent of the amount of damage, Doskozil said.

Non-governmental organizations and private individuals also got involved in helping. For example, Austrian Caritas provides quick emergency aid worth up to EUR 1,000, regardless of the injured person's income. Collections to help flood victims are also organized by private individuals, who provide them not only with material support, but also with basic necessities and household items.

Main photo source: Reuters

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