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During the ethnic conflict between the Bosnians, Serbs and Croats in the 1990s, Faruh and Nerva Zubcevic’s home was destroyed by two grenades. Over the past 20 years, they rebuilt their house in Maglaj and made it a home. Their plan was to retire and enjoy a quiet life after all their hard work.

But, after three days of non-stop rain and severe flooding, the worst in 100 years, their plan for a quiet life is in ruins.  

For 3 days and 3 nights Faruh and Nerva had to stay in the attic of their home as it was completely covered with water. They did not have a phone to call for help and had wait until a rafter passing by heard their shouts for help.

The inside of the house is completely destroyed. Furniture, appliances, bathrooms, toilets – everything was filled with water and mud. There was 30 centimetres of mud on the floor after the water left.

Instead of planning their retirement, the couple now has to plan to recover from this tragedy. When their home was ruined during the war, both Nerva and Faruh were younger, they could take loans. Now, the situation is different, no one will give them a loan and they are too old to borrow money.

“I still think that it is a bad dream and I will wake up and find my home intact. I really do not know how to go on like this,” says Nerva.

“We hoped for a quiet retirement. We wanted to enjoy our life in the house, our garden and flowers. And now everything is gone. Nothing is left. I am really lost. We should just thank God that we survived”, says Faruh.

Like the Zubcevic’s, around 500,000 people have had to be evacuated from their homes while a quarter of Bosnia’s four million people are without clean water. Many households are without electricity supplies. Several landslides took place damaging regional roads. Several bridges were destroyed and some villages have been cut off from the supplies. The evacuation of the people trapped by the floods is ongoing.

Habitat staff members are assessing the situation and coordinating with local governments and partners on the disaster response operations. Habitat’s response efforts may include the distribution of clean-up and hygiene kits to help families make needed repairs to partially damaged homes. Based on funding availability, the longer-term response may also include construction assistance, distribution of materials and labor support through micro housing loans.

Habitat has significant experience responding to disasters around the world. More than 170,000 families have been served through disaster response programmes since the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004. Based on this experience, Habitat is working to respond quickly, to limit further suffering and the crisis deepening.

The scale of Habitat’s response will be determined by your support. Please give what you can today.

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