It was all done in ten minutes. The water came suddenly. Like lava on a volcano. It carried stones and trees – an unprecedented element. It absorbed everything. It was ruining everything. Today – the third, fourth day after the disaster, we stand in front of our devastated homes and cannot enter them.
The element started from the steep slopes of Sredna Gora above Slatina. And the mountain was full of rain, it poured so much. Landslides started in nine places above the village – that’s why the forest is as if split by paths. The flood started from there. In ten minutes, a lifetime’s worth of work turned into sand and mud. This is how the people from Karavelovo, Slatina and Bogdan describe the disaster. An unprecedented downpour from the broken sky and dozens of ruined destinies.
Look, three meters of mud blocked my house. All the fences around it have been destroyed – they were nice fences, three meters high. A very scary job, says 63-year-old Mincho Valkov from Slatina. He is a former municipal councilor in the Karlovy Vary Municipal Council and a former forest official. He started building his home when he was 23 years old. For 40 years he collected, built, created.
He built a three-story house – on the first floor an oven and a shop, on the third – a cafe. Part of the second floor is the family’s residence. Now the fences are gone, sand has filled the two floors of his home, the last 50 cm of the second floor have not been filled with sand. Looking at the house from the outside, one would not guess that there are two more floors of the building under the layer of new earth.
I was outside when the water came. It started raining at 7:00 a.m. and by 10:00 a.m. the flood occurred. Some boys on the other side of the river barely survived, Mincho points out. Two of them were thrown into the courtyards by the river, their whole bodies peeled. The wave threw them away. Good thing they survived. It all happened in ten minutes, by the time I got back from there, it was all gone. To the west and to the south, on all sides, everything collapsed. There is no shed, no fences, there is a house full of dirt. Nothing will happen anymore. This won’t recover for years. A great tragedy, says Mincho Valkov. And a few meters from his previous doors, the neighbor’s car is broken, the water and the trees dragged it there.
Between the two walnuts, which are about 30 meters opposite each other, are near Mincho’s house. Between them was the river of Slatina. It was at least three meters deep, if not more. Retaining walls were built on both sides, says Delko Delkov from Slatina.
Also on both sides of the river was the street. Now the sand, trees and driftwood are about five feet above street level. It looks like it was the street. And today the river is gone – the water flows in all directions. The embankment is at least three meters. Are there retaining walls? No one knows, says Delko.
On the same bank of the river until recently is the house of Elena Lucheva. After the flood, the first floor floats in water, the level is more than a meter. The laminate floors in the house and in the summer kitchen have crumbled into planks. Furniture, appliances, everything sways ridiculously in the water that has filled the rooms.
It rained during the night, it continued in the morning and at 10 o’clock the flood started, the woman recalls the terrible morning. The river overflowed and entered the houses. Everything was flooded, says Elena. She tried to stop incoming water with a new Persian rug. Now it stands rolled up in front of the entrance of the house and covered with a thick layer of sand.
Even when everything was happening, our mayor should have immediately reported and asked for help. When he announces, when he spreads the word, a little help will always come from somewhere, says the woman. They reported us one on the third day. Twice we pumped the water out of the rooms, neighbors helped me with pumps. But everything refills.
There is more than a meter of water in the rooms – everything floats. Everything is new – furniture, electrical appliances, refrigerator, kitchen furniture, laminate flooring, sofas. We gave BGN 10,000 to tighten the floor. There is a heating boiler there, it is in the water. We gave BGN 3,000 for him. New bedroom, another bedroom, sewing machines for 5000, sofa for 1000 BGN, laminates. Everything floats. We don’t have insurance. Here the blowers fell, and the level in the yard is already at least 1.5 m higher – only mud, drifts. A lot of equipment came today, if they clear in front of the houses, I hope we can go inside and pump the water again. Hopefully some help will come from somewhere.