“I did not succeed in putting my boots on. Suddenly, I was kneeling in the water when it hit from the sewer. The water rose very quickly and flooded the ground floor up to a meter. It smelled very much like oil, as the floods in the cellars rolled up tanks with fuel oil. Rats climbed the facade and reached the second floor. It took three days before the water flowed out and I could step into the yard”. This is how Jože, who lives in Ljubljana’s Vrhovci, described us his experience of the flood that happened in 2010.
Their house was also flooded four years later, when other major floods were recorded in Ljubljana. Once again, the water rose very rapidly. Only that it was drained before it caused major damage, owing to the fact that the furnace and electrical appliances were raised by one meter after the rehabilitation of the previous floods. “We have seen that only such adjustments can help us. Even if we had pumps at our disposal, they would not be able to drain so much water, as everything happens within ten minutes,” said the interlocutor.
Among the precautions regarding the floods, the mandatory night on-call services are listed, which are meant to inform about each forecast of major falls. “In the last couple of years, we are exchanging phone calls with our son in the evening and monitoring the data on the flow of water at the measuring stations on the computer or on the mobile phone. We are already aware that action should be taken if the flow at the measuring point Dvor na Gradaščici exceeds a certain limit. At 250-260 cubic meters per second, it is already very critical, and at 220-230 cubic meters it is wise to move the cars and prepare the boots,” said Jože. And they hope that in the morning they will not find a parking fine on their cars because of improper parking, because they can only be removed from the sidewalks on a nearby hill.
When the water drains, the inhabitants are waiting for at least two weeks to clean up the flooded dirt and dry the flooded areas. Both floods together caused to Jože a damage amounting to more than ten thousand euros. “After the first floods in 2010, domestic insurance companies were no longer able to insure houses in our neighbourhood. I had to conclude a flood insurance with one of the foreign insurance companies, but I had to take photographs of all the flood prevention embankments and other measures in the area and to submit a lot of documentation to ensure that the area is safe from the usual rainfall,” he added.
His experience was not the only one, as floods in the autumn of 2010 and 2014 flooded a large part of the southwestern part of Ljubljana. In both cases, there were several factors that increased the impact of the flood. At the Ljubljansko Barje (Ljubljana Marsh), karst flash floods first appeared, occurring several times a year and lasting for several days or weeks. Karst flash floods were accompanied by torrential floods when Gradaščica, Glinščica and Mali Graben rivers rose rapidly due to strong precipitation above the Polhov Gradec dolomites. The water could not be spill-dredged or inflated quickly enough, which was due to the poor maintenance of the flood infrastructure, such as non-flowing canals in which bushes or even trees were growing in some areas.
At the National Water Directorate, they told us that the floods in 2010 caused about €190 million of damage. Even more damage was recorded in 2014 (€255 million), and in the last 25 years, the floods swept away about $1.8 billion across the country. Of this, most of the damage has been incurred in the last ten years, as major flood events in 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2014 caused a billion euros in damages.
In the last decade, floods have caused about €120 millions of damages each year on average, they estimate at the Directorate. If direct damage is added to indirect damage – loss of revenue from economic operators, business collapse, interrupted infrastructure and communication links and other long-term consequences – the annual estimate increases to around €150 million. In the period of 1991-2008, direct damage caused by floods reached almost half of the total GDP each year, according to the researchers of