Moravian tornado one year on: how CZK 190 million of donated money helped rebuild South Moravia after an unexpected disasterPublished: Jun 21, 2022 Reading time: 9 minutes
Immediately after the tornado ripped through South Moravia last year, we announced a fundraising appeal SOS Moravia to help the affected communities. We raised over CZK 190 million, which we used to help people rebuild their homes, financially support municipalities, and help rebuild gardens, orchards, and local businesses.
TORNADO IN SOUTH MORAVIA AND our SOS MORAViA FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN
On 24 June 2021, the largest tornado in modern Czech history hit South Moravia. It swept through the Břeclav and Hodonín regions, leaving six dead, dozens injured, hundreds of houses destroyed, and more than 1,000 roofs damaged. Five villages were devastated and remained without power, gas, and mobile signal for several days. Rescue operations and movement in the villages were complicated by destruction and debris.
Authentic video showing the tornado in South Moravia:
After the tornado, a massive wave of solidarity swept across the Czech Republic, resulting in a record fundraising of more than CZK 1 billion. There was also a massive demand for volunteer help to clean up the disaster's aftermath and repair damaged houses. Shortly after the first reports of the disaster, we announced a public fundraising campaign called SOS Moravia.
"Nobody expected a tornado in the Czech Republic. No one was prepared for it, and no one had any experience of how to act in the event of such a disaster. The tornado struck with unprecedented force and left behind dead and injured, destroyed infrastructure, a devastated landscape, and thousands of destroyed homes. However, the solidarity amongst Czechs was incredible, and the public response was admirable. Since then, record amounts of money have been raised to help people affected by the tornado. A year later, the money has been distributed, and most of the damage has been repaired," says Šimon Pánek, director of People in Need.
HOW MUCH WAS RAISED IN THE SOS MORAVA CAMPAIGN AND HOW WE USED THE RESOURCES
The public collection of aid for South Moravia raised a total of CZK 169,087,000. With the support of the Club of Friends of People in Need, our Slovak sister organisation: People in Need Slovakia, and institutional donors such as the Centre for Disaster Philanthropy, Ford Foundation, Global Giving Foundation, Donio, Mondi, and IKEA, the total amount of aid reached CZK 191,697,000.
We have raised a total of CZK 191,697,000 for post-tornado relief:
- We distributed immediate material aid worth CZK 3,019,000
- We provided financial support to reconstruct 609 households with one or more donations
- We supported each of the five affected municipalities with CZK 5,000,000
- We distributed 788 vouchers for furniture and equipment at IKEA
- We financed the planting of 23,386 new trees and shrubs
First response after the tornado: we started repairs immediately
Our team arrived in the disaster area on the day following the tornado and attended the first meetings of the crisis team and the mayors. We worked with these teams and local authorities to map the extent of the damage throughout the affected area.
We sent CZK 5,000,000 to each of the five affected municipalities for immediate needs and the future reconstruction of municipal assets.
In the days that followed the tornado, there was an urgent need to cover houses where roofs were torn off or damaged. We had to clear away large amounts of debris and rubble. During the first few weeks, our team provided 10,500 m2 of tarps of various sizes, 135 wheelbarrows, 68 m3 of wooden beams, 980 chipboards, and various fasteners.
The material was delivered to the central warehouses of the affected municipalities, from where the owners of the damaged houses, assisted by the crisis staff, could collect it as needed. This aid was used within the first few weeks and helped cover the houses so the owners could renovate the interiors.
We also enlisted and supported one group of volunteer tradespeople that were on-site, directing them to help vulnerable and at-risk citizens who could not undertake reconstruction on their own.
Financial assistance to affected households in four phases
The main pillar of our assistance was direct financial support to affected households. We disbursed assistance in four phases. In the first two phases, all affected families received assistance as quickly as possible so that they had the means to purchase equipment and commence construction work. In the third and fourth phases, we focused on the most complicated situations, i.e. households with extensive disabilities or which were also in a complex social or economic situation.
- The first aid distributions were scaled up to CZK 75,000 (for light damage) and CZK 150,000 (medium or large damage). Aid was given to those affected throughout July and August 2021. A total of 391 households were supported in the first phase. This support was primarily used to cover the first invoices from construction companies and the purchase of construction materials, the price of which started to rise steeply in the summer of 2021.
- In the second phase, starting in September 2021, households with moderate to severe damage were again supported with CZK 150,000 to complete major repairs before the onset of winter. A total of 139 households were supported in this phase.
- The third phase, lasting from November 2021 to May 2022, took the form of individualized assistance and focused on households with the most significant degree of disability and those who—for various reasons—were unable to raise sufficient funds from other sources to rebuild their housing. In this phase, we considered the total damage as determined by the damage assessors and insurance adjusters, the support from the state allocated through the Živel subsidy, insurance coverage, and previous donations received from NGOs, foundations or municipalities, and private collections. The victims were then reimbursed for 50 per cent of the uncovered damages based on a calculation. At the same time, socially disadvantaged families or individuals were reimbursed for up to 80 per cent of the uncovered damages. A total of 86 households were supported in this phase.
- The remaining funds allocated for home repairs were redistributed in the fourth phase of financial assistance to 31 of the most vulnerable households.
We have stayed in the area for a long time and we have provided people with counselling and psychological help
At the scene of a disaster, we always remain to work for a long time. Staying put allows us to monitor the progress of reconstruction work and the gradual return to everyday life—not only from an economic but also social and psychological point of view. Thanks to long-term knowledge, we can help people in the right way and at the right time.
In the municipalities affected by the tornado, we distributed financial assistance from the SOS Moravia collection in four stages. In addition to financial assistance, we also provided psychological assistance, debt counselling, consultations with architects and landscapers, and administrative support from employees who deal with people in complex systems. This assistance helped orientate the affected people allowing them to know when, where, and to whom to turn.
In all affected areas, our field workers worked intensively, regularly visited the affected households in person, mapped the people's needs, and ascertained the social and financial situation. They helped people submit applications for grants; they assisted in communication with insurance companies, the State Investment Support Fund, which manages the Živel state subsidy, and other institutions.
Debt advisers worked with people who were in debt or in execution. They provided financial advice to prevent obtaining bad loans to cover tornado-related damages.
We also distributed material assistance from the collection's partners—13 washing machines and refrigerators from Bosch, 92 bicycles and e-bikes from Škoda Auto, 25 vouchers for furniture purchases from Möbelix and 788 vouchers for furniture and interior fittings from IKEA.
We also helped after torrential downpours and floods in other parts of the Czech Republic
In addition to the communities affected by the tornado in South Moravia, we also used part of the money from the SOS Moravia collection to help people in North Bohemia, where we helped families in communities affected by the torrential downpours in the Louny region. Further aid went to the Českolipsko and Šluknovsko regions which were hit by flash floods in mid-July.
Assistance in this area was paid for by donations from several private donors who agreed that part of their donation to SOS Moravia could be used in North Bohemia.
32 households in the Louny region received direct financial assistance totalling CZK 4 million. We distributed the aid according to the same methodology we used in Moravia. The organisation purchased and distributed 200 pallets of roof tiles, lumber, and other material for the affected households.
Another CZK 4 million helped 74 households in the Českolipsko and Šluknovsko regions. Here, social workers from our Liberec team carried out surveys in the villages of Lobendava, Dolní Poustevna, Lindava, Kunratice, Trnovice, Písečná, Dobranov, and Zákupy.
Affected households outside the territory of five South Moravian municipalities affected by the tornado also received material and once-off financial assistance of approximately CZK 8.7 million.
Restoration of gardens and orchards, support for small business and leisure activities
We distributed millions of crowns from the SOS Moravia fundraising campaign through a grant call announced by the Partnership Foundation for the restoration of damaged gardens and orchards. Destroyed greenery around homes has a significant psychological effect, and its natural renewal will take significantly longer than home repairs. We supported around 500 households in a two-round grant procedure.
With the amount of CZK 10 million, we also supported the grant call of the VIA Foundation for the renewal of small businesses and the renewal of facilities for the so-called individual leisure activities.
- This aid was intended to restore agricultural land (vineyards and fields), restore damaged business premises (shops, workshops, and other establishments), and purchase machinery and livestock.
- Further assistance focused on the renovation of premises for the operation of individual leisure activities (workshops, studios, garages, gardens, garden houses, greenhouses, pergolas, chicken coops, aviaries, swimming pools), repair or re-acquisition of machines and tools (carving tools, sewing machines; gardening, DIY, and art tools) and other repairs and material equipment associated with the resumption of leisure activities.
Prevention of the effects of extreme weather
The balance of funds collected in the SOS Moravia fundraising campaign—approximately CZK 10 million—will be used in the period from June 2022 to June 2024 for a program to mitigate the effects of extreme weather in South Moravia.
The program focuses on combating drought, working in local river basins, and restoring greenery and other areas.