News Articles

7/28/97 Baptist families, churches among toll in record Europe flooding

HAMBURG, Germany (BP)–Baptist families have been among those evacuated and whose homes have been destroyed or damaged in the worst floods central Europe has seen in at least 100 years. Baptists in these areas also report damaged church buildings, equipment and furniture.
The European Baptist Federation has sent immediate financial aid to Poland as a beginning response to damage assessments now under way in flooded areas. EBF is centralizing information about the flood, resulting from weeks of rain, and is coordinating the continental aid response.
The Baptist Union of Poland reports the flooding has affected 13 provinces of the southwestern and southern regions of Poland, with about 50 cities and 300 villages covered by water. Many of them were destroyed, others were covered by mud and contaminated water. Fifty people died, and about 33,000 had to be evacuated. Damage figures are estimated to be between $500 million to $1 billion. Church buildings in the cities of Wroclaw and Tarnow have been damaged.
Pastor Daniel Trusiewicz reported July 22 the building of his church, Wroclaw (First) Baptist Church, was unaffected by the floods, but the building of Second Baptist Church in the city was flooded and damaged. Water reached two metres in some areas, he said. Since the Second Baptist Church building was still flooded, only obvious damage had been seen — floors, heating system, carpets, furniture damaged or destroyed.
Five families from the two Baptist churches in the city were known so far to have been evacuated from their homes because of the floods. Some children have been sent to dry regions of the country because of the threat of epidemics breaking out.
Wroclaw’s water system has been knocked out, so only enough water is coming through the pipes for sanitary uses. Drinking water and food are being distributed. Members of the Wroclaw Baptist churches are helping to take water and food to the needy and homebound, according to Trusiewicz. He and other church members have been making visits and on call for spiritual support. “At the church meeting last Sunday, we encouraged those who were able to help others. People are mobilized, visiting each other, praying together,” the pastor said.
In a letter to Polish Baptist Union leaders, Second Baptist Church leaders recounted damage to: church and language school rooms with damaged or destroyed floors, walls, carpeting, furniture, equipment. They fear the church’s heating system is a complete loss, making the building unusable in fall and winter. At one point, water in the building stood 1.3 meters deep.
Water damage and contamination are not their only enemies. Time also is of the essence. It is already late July and repairs will need to be done quickly if the church and its language school are to start their fall activities in September as scheduled, according to the letter.
A similar situation exists at the Tarnow church. Their furniture and sound amplifying system in the cellar were damaged beyond repair.
In the Czech Republic, many lives have been disrupted by the floods; a reported 40 people have died and thousands of homes destroyed. Petr Cervinsky, general secretary of the Baptist Union in the Czech Republic, reported July 26 there are about 10 Baptist churches in the areas affected by the floods, but none of the buildings have sustained major damage.
In the area of Zlin, a reported 13 people from local Baptist groups were evacuated. The pastor of the Baptist church in Broumov and his family had to move to another apartment when their flat was flooded. Residents of the area of Sumperk report their cellars and vegetable gardens are under up to one meter of heavy silt.
Dobraslav Stehlik, president of the Brotherly Union of Baptists in the Czech Republic, went into the Moravian and Bohemian regions of the country, among the hardest-hit in flooding. He took with him donations from Baptists in the Czech Republic to help churches or families affected by the floods. All the churches in the republic have collected money. Also, an Afro-American Gospel Choir from the state of Virginia came to the Czech Republic as scheduled to sing in concerts at 10 towns in Bohemia. Their tour was a part of a partnership between Baptists in the Czech Republic and Virginia. At the concerts, offerings were collected to aid flood victims.
A building of the Baptist school in Olomouc has been opened to accommodate Christians needing temporary shelter from the floods. Cervinsky said he plans to make another trip into the affected areas to survey the situation and further determine how Baptists can help.
Josef Kulacik, general secretary of the Brotherly Union of Baptists in Slovakia, reported hearing of one church about 100 kilometers from Bratislava that suffered some damage from the flood. Slovak Baptists have already taken up a collection to aid affected churches in the Czech Republic, Kulacik said.
In reports to date, no Baptist churches in eastern Germany had been inundated, but water was continuing to rise and holes were being repaired in dikes along the Oder River. Members of the Baptist church in Frankfurt on the Oder watched anxiously as water rose to within 300 meters of their building. Many were meeting to pray, remembering a similar devastating flood in 1947.
Four mission stations in the same district were in the flood’s possible path: Gusow, Podelzig, Manschnow and Reitwein. The leader of the Gusow group, Gerhard Grundemann, he and others were packed in case they needed to be evacuated.
European Baptist unions and individuals interested in giving to help send needed aid to the flood-affected areas can send donations marked “Aid to the flood victims” to European Baptist Federation, Account number 17 17 00, Bank code 500 921 00, Spar-und Kreditbank, Postfach 1262, D-61282 Bad Homburg, Germany.

    About the Author

  • Martha Skelton