MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The Balkans are enduring the worst floods since records began 120 years ago! The situation is being exacerbated by the risk of landmines from the Bosnia war resurfacing. Already 26 bodies have been recovered, and rescuers expect to find more as flood waters recede. Even though the intense rainfall subsided Monday, May 19th, the disaster is far from over.
Milwaukee has a strong Serbian community. More than 1,000 families belong to the St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral. Among them are about 250 families who came to Milwaukee during the Civil War two decades ago. They have strong connections to Serbia, and they say watching the flooding from afar hasn't been easy.
Powerful images out of Serbia show entire cities swallowed by flood waters, and people forced to evacuate their homes.
"In three days, all the cities were completely flooded. Like, water has been over the roofs," Jelena Gvozden said.
Gvozden was born in Serbia.
Since the flooding began, she has been glued to her phone -- keeping track of her family members still there via Facebook.
"Their crops have been completely destroyed. Their animals as well. They can go back to their home and clean up a little bit but other families are definitely in a worse situation," Gvozden said.
The epic flooding is the worst Serbia has seen since the country began keeping records 120 years ago.
More than a dozen people have died -- and it's a death toll that's expected to climb.
"Since we can`t be there to help directly, we`re trying to do whatever we can to help here," Gvozden said.
Donations are already being dropped off at the St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church in Milwaukee.
The church is asking for basic items -- like diapers, clothes and first aid kits.
"We are blessed living here and having everything. They don`t have anything," Rev. Father Dragan Veleusic said.
The floods are the latest tragedy in a country where the Civil War is still fresh in the minds of many.
"To survive. That`s number one. Nobody thinks about property, and everything is lost and unfortunately some lives are lost too," Rev. Father Dragan Veleusic said.
Donations are being accepted every night this week from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Serbian Cultural Center on South 51st Street.
Monetary donations are best -- because they can get to Serbia fastest -- but other basic items are appreciated as well.