by: Tom Regan Updated:GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. —
As hundreds of thousands struggle following the worst flooding in a century in the Balkans, members of the Bosnian Community Center in Gwinnett County have joined forces with the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department and Catholic World Mission to collect supplies for those left homeless and displaced.
One of the volunteers organizing the effort is a member of the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Reserve Unit, Brad Smith, who made many friends in his overseas assignment assisting police in the war-torn nation for five years.
“In the last month, two months, they received some of the hardest rain in 100 years, and the devastation from that has put them in a very bad position," said Smith
Heavy rains triggered mud slides that buried homes, villages and displaced thousands of residents in Bosnia and Serbia. Adding to the alarm, rescuers are concerned thousands of landmines buried during the Bosnian war may resurface as a result of the high water.
The greater Atlanta area is home to the third-largest Bosnian community in the country, with a significant population in Gwinnett County.
Channel 2's Carol Sbarge was at the Bosnian Community Center in Lawrenceville on Tuesday as volunteers from the community, Sheriff's Department and Catholic World Mission collected supplies ranging from baby diapers, formula, tents, clothing and hygiene products.
Catholic World Mission has funded the overseas shipping of the 40-foot container of supplies, and has donated high-value pharmaceuticals to restock hospitals, a critical need following a flooding disaster when disease risk is high.
"This is a great opportunity for us to show how communities and faiths come together." said Catholic World Mission Director Rick Medina.
An immigrant from Bosnia, who donated and helped pack supplies said the need is urgent.
"There are diseases due to the high temperatures that are rising and there's a great need for us to allocate as much aide, especially for hygienic,” said volunteer Edin Basic.
If you would like to donate to the disaster relief effort please click here.