Saturday, April 15, 2006

Spring Flooding in Belgrade

If you haven’t heard on the news, the Danube and other rivers in Eastern Europe have flooded their banks due to heavy rainfall and melted snow. Romania, northern and eastern Serbia, and Bulgaria are the current victims. The lower-lying areas of Belgrade have also been hit. Senjak, the area where I live and location of the school, is quite high and not directly affected.

This afternoon I decided to head down to Ada and see for myself the flooding situation that was occurring around that area. As I walked down the hill towards the Sajam road, I saw that traffic was backed up, just as it had been all week. At least this major road wasn’t closed like it was earlier in the week, causing major difficulties for people getting to school. Recalling the water bubbling up from the manholes last Sunday and spilling onto the roads, this section actually looked drier.

As I walked towards Ada, things were different. It was quite something to see areas I had walked on less than a week earlier now underwater. Poles for street signs and lights were partially submerged. A pile of sandbags bordered a side of a house. Restaurant and houseboats were marooned quite a distance away from the shore. Through the brackish waters, the yellow of dandelion heads could be seen. Bike paths, instead of circumnavigating around the man-made lakes of Ada, now led directly into the floodwaters.

Except for the truck with sandbags entering Ada park, activities were going on as normal. Teens were playing soccer on the grass. Young parents pushed babies in strollers along the higher paved paths. Like usual, young children were often dressed warmer than necessary. People of all ages ran, walked, or jogged along the paths, enjoying the spring sun. Popcorn and ice cream vendors tempted those who didn’t stop into the small cafés along the way. Fishing and boating also continued as normal. With the debris and perhaps chemicals brought by the floods, I’m not sure if I’d want to eat those fish, but it was a great day to fish.

I decided to head back to Senjak by another route. I walked around the circumference of the hippodrome, giving me a different view of the horse track than I normally see from my apartment. As I turned the bend, I once again saw cars lined up for quite some distance. It appeared that they had been waiting for a bit, as some had turned off the engines and were out of the cars talking to others. Not quite sure what the issue was, I continued heading towards Senjak. I saw a police car drive to the left of the long queue of cars. Was this holdup caused by floodwaters? Would I be able to get up to Senjak from this road? I then saw gates over the railroad tracks. After the train went through, a man cranked up the gate and vehicles once again made their way through, causing the normal congestion of a narrow road.

Before I headed home, I walked through the neighborhood, taking some photos of the blooming trees. The extra color, along with the leaves bursting forth on the trees, spring flowers and brilliant blue skies reminded me of why I enjoy spring so much.

1 comment:

tombetz said...

Surf's Up?

the BBC has been doing stories on Balkan flooding.