Large Numbers of Volunteers Expected In Tornado-Hit Areas Over The Weekend
As a large number of volunteers are expected to travel to the tornado-hit areas of South Moravia over the long weekend, the coordinators of the relief effort have issued guidelines to ensure that the process runs smoothly. Above all, volunteers are asked to report directly to the volunteer contact points established in Hodonín and Břeclav for deployment. Photo Credit: Jan Kostík / oddělení dokumentace / MV-GŘ HZS ČR / 2021.
Czech Rep., July 2 (BD) – South Moravian regional authorities are expecting large numbers of volunteers to travel to tornado-affected areas in the Hodonín and Břeclav districts this weekend. To ensure that the operation runs smoothly, coordinators of the relief effort have put some basic rules in place for volunteers.
Photo: Area affected by the tornado. Credit: Jan Kostík / oddělení dokumentace / MV-GŘ HZS ČR / 2021.
The most important instruction is that anyone wishing to help should go first to one of the two volunteer contact points established at the Hodonín House of Culture and the car park at Břeclav Airport. They will then be taken by shuttle bus to where their help is needed. The relief effort is most in need of volunteers with craft skills, especially if they can bring their own tools. Most other volunteers will be deployed to clean up the areas surrounding the affected villages.
Significant progress has already been made clearing debris from the villages that were devastated by last Thursday’s tornado, into three designated landfill facilities in the area. Jiří Pelikán, director of the South Moravian fire brigade, estimated that up 50 to 60% of the area of the villages has now been cleared. Temporary tarpaulin roofs have been installed on damaged houses, and most residents have now been reconnected to gas power. The Czech Army and fire services are continuing with the clean-up effort, and volunteer help is greatly needed and appreciated. According to Jan Grolich, Governor of South Moravia, the clean-up operation is now moving to the fields and vineyards surrounding the villages.
Photo: Fire services at the area affected by the tornado. Credit: Jan Kostík / oddělení dokumentace / MV-GŘ HZS ČR / 2021.
Thanks to the huge response from the public to relief fundraising efforts, supplies of food, drink, clothing and medicines are now more than sufficient, and no more are needed. “The huge halls are all overcrowded,” said Grolich. “No medicines are needed, no food, no bottled water, clothes… There is a huge amount. Crisis staff in these facilities are overwhelmed looking for new space to store this material assistance. I ask everyone who is organising collections to keep this material help with them, and we will contact them if necessary.”
Instead, there is a great demand for construction materials, and skilled workers to help with rebuilding. Over 150 houses are designated for demolition, and this number will keep rising as structural engineers carry out surveys on the damaged buildings. Klára Dostálová, Czech Minister for Regional Development, said that CZK 500,000 will be provided to the inhabitants of each house which has to be demolished, to assist with the costs of rehousing and rebuilding. 80 psychologists are in the affected areas to provide support for those who have lost their homes.
Photo: Houses affected by the tornado. Credit: Jan Kostík / oddělení dokumentace / MV-GŘ HZS ČR / 2021.
Grolich added that misinformation was causing some problems on the ground. “A lot of information is spreading on social networks that is no longer up to date. Shared posts are often several days old, and a lot of things have been resolved in the meantime. When we urgently need something, we will share it in the media.”
Six people lost their lives as a result of the tornado. All other people are accounted for, and this total is not expected to rise any further.
Guidelines for volunteers
In anticipation of a large influx of assistance this weekend, the regional authorities have laid out some guidelines to make the process run smoothly. “We appreciate and thank the volunteers for their help,” said Grolich. “This would not be possible without them. Now it’s just a matter of making the efforts as productive and efficient as possible.”
- Most importantly, the coordinators are asking all volunteers to report to one of the two designated contact points: Hodonín House of Culture and the car park at Břeclav Airport. Volunteers can park at these locations, and coordinators will then send them by shuttle bus to where they are most needed.
- Do not enter the affected villages without authorisation, as the roads must be kept clear for the heavy machinery operating in the cleanup.
- Do not bring material assistance, as the operation is well-stocked for food, clothes, medicine etc, and storage is becoming a logistical problem.
- Most needed are skilled workers with their own tools. Other volunteers will mostly be sent to help clean-up the surrounding fields and vineyards, which were also heavily damaged by the tornado.
- Be careful when working or moving around the village or surrounding areas, and wear sturdy shoes, work clothes, and gloves.
- Do not call local authorities directly, as all staff are extremely busy with the relief effort. The two contact points have up-to-date information, and staff on hand to tell you anything you need to know.
- Go home at the end of the day: temporary facilities such as showers are available, but no accommodation is available for volunteers, and it would be helpful to the crisis response coordinators if you arrive in the morning and leave at the end of the day.
The region has set up a website at https://dobrovolnici.jmk.cz/ with all the necessary information for volunteers. The website will gather up-to-the-minute information about the state of the relief effort, the type and amount of help needed, and any changes to the situation.
Photos: The Czech Army and fire services are continuing with the clean-up effort. Credit: Jan Kostík / oddělení dokumentace / MV-GŘ HZS ČR / 2021.