Flood damage assessments to be ready by September, minister says
Ljubljana, 16 August - A preliminary flood damage assessment, which will be the basis for an advance payment to municipalities for flood relief effort totalling 40% of the estimated damage, will be ready by 1 September, Minister of Natural Resources and Spatial Planning Uroš Brežan told the press after meeting representatives of municipal associations.
Efforts are under way across the country to repair the damage caused by massive floods that hit the country less than two weeks ago. Brežan said the works on the rivers and streams focussed on clean-up ahead of autumn rain and flooding. Emergency works are also under way to stabilise river banks to protect near-by infrastructure and buildings.
The minister announced that technical support offices would be set up to help municipalities, individuals and companies find the best solutions regarding damage to buildings.
The officials also discussed today long- and mid-term measures, including preventive measures and flood protection. The funds will be provided from the Recovery and Resilience Plan and other sources.
The municipal associations labelled today's meeting, which was also attended by Prime Minister Robert Golob, as constructive. According to the president of the Association of Municipalities and Towns, Vladimir Prebilič, the key information for the municipalities was that they would be reimbursed for all emergency costs.
He said municipalities had been helping each other out by exchanging employees in public institutions, public utilities and other companies. Some will also need help in assessing the damage, so coordination is under way.
Head of the Association of Municipalities Robert Smrdelj said the situation was different this time, as usually storms caused most damage to agricultural land, but this time many buildings were affected.
A big challenge for municipalities is finding land for substitute facilities for those who lost their homes. Prebilič said this "tough nut will be cracked too in close cooperation with the government and the state". The PM would like a solution to be reached through simplified procedures. "I must say he is quite daring when it comes to this," he said.
Tilen Klugler, the head of the Association of City Municipalities, said solutions must indeed be found very quickly, as people who lost their homes are living with their relatives or made other temporary arrangements. He stressed in the future more funds must be allocated for preventive measures.
The Association of Municipalities and Towns also called for systemic sources of financing of firefighters' equipment, which is a large financial burden for municipalities.
The municipalities that were not affected by the floods have already joined an initiative launched by the association and donated funds set aside for natural disasters to the municipalities that were affected. According to Prebilič, the initiative aims to collect one euro per inhabitant.
Kočevje, whose mayor is Prebilič, donated EUR 10,000 each to Solčava and Ljubno.
Almost 160 of Slovenia's 212 municipalities or two-thirds were affected by the floods, Prebilič said.