The capacities of a system are not measured on the basis of whether a disaster will occur, but rather on the basis of the consequences of such disasters. The speed at which a community is able to return to its pre-disaster state is perhaps even more important
Serbia has been hit by various storms in different seasons this year. Since the beginning of the year, Serbia has been hit by floods caused by watercourses, primarily first order watercourses, bursting their banks. These floods were expected in most locations, so there were also fewer consequences.
Serbia was hit by major floods, primarily of a torrential nature, in May and June. In most areas, these floods hit suddenly. In the month of July, particularly the second half of the month, a large number of local government units in Serbia were hit by storms that included hail. A systemic response to floods – especially when it comes to larger rivers bursting their banks – has been in place since 2014 and have an upward trajectory. However, the storms and hail of July 2023 represent “something new”, i.e., they happened for the first time in recent history, so the existing systemic response is perhaps inadequate.
Alongside funds and communication channels, the notification system implies constructed institutions, established procedures, adequate material resources for recording and notification. Moreover, informing on and responding to various dangers and signalling implies a system of training and exercises, which was unfortunately systematically abolished in Serbia in previous decades.
It isn’t possible to mitigate the consequences of disasters without the participation of citizens, but also the business world, particularly private businesses, as well as local communities
In accordance with the Law, the early warning system in the Republic of Serbia implies the establishment of a 112 (emergency telephone number) system. When it comes to targeted notifications, it is also essential to introduce special systems and communication channels and links (like the ALERT system in the U.S. or some European countries). I expect the early warning system in Serbia to develop alongside the development of the disaster risk reduction and emergency management system.
Citizens, as the first and last link in the chain, depending on their point of view, or rather their position and role, represent the weakest link in the system for multiple reasons. The most important reason is their insufficient knowledge and awareness of the importance and implementing of preventative measures aimed at reducing the risk of disasters. The lack of a special educational programme/subject, such as civil protection and first aid, over many decades, has also led to an insufficient level of training among citizens and their readiness to react in the case of an emergency. As a good example, I would mention the City of Kraljevo and the establishment of simultaneous civil protection exercises in all primary schools every 13 October (International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction). On that day, teaching staff, working independently with school pupils, conduct earthquake and evacuation exercises.