Two weeks ago, massive floods caused by heavy rainfall hit Slovenia. According to the local authorities, the country is currently facing the worst natural disaster in the history of independent Slovenia, affecting two-thirds of the country. The adverse weather conditions caused death of at least six people and damage exceeding 500 million EUR.
Already on 6th August, the second day of the disaster, Slovenian government asked for international support. On this day, an official request was sent to NATO´s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC), asking for five helicopters, up to 200 personnel and 20 prefabricated bridges.
On the following day, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke by phone with Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob, assuring him that the disaster coordination centre immediately notified all thirty-one Allied countries and thirty-five partners about the country needs.
In the meantime, Slovenian armed and police forces began with rescue and evacuation actions carried out by their rotorcraft. According to official information, Slovenian Police Air Support Unit, operating AW 169, EC 135 and A109E helicopters, saved 286 people and helped with evacuation and transport of another forty-two persons. The armed forces assigned a four-helicopter force to assist with rescue and evacuation, as well as provide freshwater deliveries. It included two Bell 412, one Bell 206 and one AS532 Cougar rotorcraft. In addition, another winch-equipped Cougar was called back to the country from its overseas deployment.
The Slovenian call for help was quickly responded by several Alliance members. Spain was among the first ones, offering one CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopter and up to twenty-five personnel. The Spanish contingent reached Slovenia already early morning on Tuesday, 8th August.
Germany deployed two heavy-lift CH-53 helicopters and thirty soldiers, Croatia sent one Mi-171Sh rotorcraft with a crew of eight, and Hungary joined the international aviation contingent with two Airbus H145M helicopters.
Another assistance was provided by Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, France, Greece, the Great Britain, Italy, Latvia, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, as well by the US European Command (EUCOM) and the US Agency for International Aid.
Apart from the NATO members, the aviation support was also provided by other European countries. The Austrian Armed Forces (Bundesheer) sent one S-70i Black Hawk and one Agusta Bell 212. Another military contingent was deployed from Serbia, including one H145M and one Mi-17 helicopter with medevac capability.
Additional military and civilian rescue teams, as well as other aid, were provided by Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Israel and Malta.
Cover photo: Sikorsky CH-53G Sea Stallion, Luftwaffe. Information from the NATO, Serbian, Slovenian and Austrian MoD press materials were used.