Warsaw, 15 July 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Volunteers are organizing help today for tens of thousands of people in Poland and the Czech Republic whose homes have been lost or damaged in devastating floods.
Joanna Morawska, spokeswoman for the Warsaw branch of the Red Cross, said many of these people have become virtually homeless and need everything down to toothbrushes. Morawska said her organization sent 56 trucks with 528 tons of food, water and clothing to flooded regions of Poland in the past week.
In the Czech Republic, people have already donated the equivalent of $3.5 million to flood relief through bank accounts set up by foundations and the Red Cross.
Heavy rain in central Europe throughout June set off flooding 10 days ago. Floods are now receding in some parts of southern Poland, but are continuing to submerge more towns and villages elsewhere in southwestern Poland and the Czech Republic.
Meanwhile, Poland's coalition cabinet is meeting today to decide on proposals for changes to the 1997 budget and other laws to divert money to flood relief and reconstruction. The proposals will be put to an emergency sitting of parliament tomorrow.
Polish Finance Minister Marek Belka said flood assistance is the main priority of the government budget. He said the government will need to borrow $300 million from the World Bank and a similar amount from the National Bank of Poland to rebuild flooded areas. He also proposed a temporary "solidarity flood tax" on Poles to bring in extra money for reconstruction.