With the Balkans devastated by the worst flooding in more than a century, Bosnians in Utah are stepping up to help out.
A drive to collect donations for flood victims will take place from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday at the American Bosnian-Herzegovinian Association (ABHA) Cultural Center at 3723 S. 900 East in Millcreek.
The ABHA and the Bosnian American Youth Association (BAYA), are collecting money; underwear, shirts, pants and other clothing for children and adults; diapers; baby formula; hygiene items, including antibacterial soaps and ointments; detergent; and mild pain relievers for adults. A $15 entrance fee is requested from those who go inside the center.
Salt Lake City-based O.C. Tanner on Friday delivered three truckloads of items it has collected for the drive, according to Charlotte Miller, the company’s senior vice president of People & Great Work. In addition, O.C. Tanner has committed to giving a total of $10,000 to organizations assisting with the rescue and aid operations in the Balkans, she said.
Andreo Micic, of Salt Lake City, said all the money and goods collected by ABHA and BAYA will be sent to a sister organization in St. Louis, which will deliver the aid directly to flood victims.
Micic, who left Bosnia as a toddler, said his home country has been devastated by the recent flooding, which officials say was caused by three months of rain falling in just three days. Many residents were left with nothing because of the flooding and the landslides it caused, which caught them by surprise, he said.
“There was no warning, so they just got up and left,” Micic said of many of the Bosnians forced to flee their homes. “Basically everything they owned was destroyed by the water.”
Even those who live on high ground and weren’t forced out of their homes, including his grandparents, are suffering, Micic said. He said there is no clean water or electricity in some places, the streets are covered in garbage that is causing an “unbearably pungent smell,” and local pharmacies are out of medications.
The Associated Press has reported that the flooding in Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia — the worst in the region since record-keeping began 120 years ago — has led to several dozen deaths and forced half a million people from their homes.
Micic estimates there are more than 10,000 people from the former Yugoslavia living in Utah.