So it ended up happening. Evacuation due to rising water….and poor drainage systems in northern Albania.
Last Saturday morning I got a call from the country director checking in on the flooding situation in Lezhë. We weren’t any wetter than usual following a few days of rain, and I told him there was no visible flooding. BUT because a few villages to the north (that are still in Lezhë district) were flooded and there were floods between here and Tirana AND the dirt dam just north of here could potentially break and flood the city….the PC decided to pull us in to Tirana for a few days along with all the Shkoder volunteers. After seeing how some of the surrounding areas were literally under water, I think it was probably a good decision to have us “evacuate” ourselves. I was pretty impressed by how the PC staff handled the whole situation – and, it’s only the beginning of a long and wet winter, so we’ll see what future floods may happen. Also – a lot of roads in the country were literally under water and several power stations were out, so I am glad I was not stranded without power and/or water as was the case for some volunteers.
In general it was nice to have a break and spend some time doing “city” things…like eating chinese food and bowling – both amazing when you haven’t had access to them in months and months. And there are lots of christmas/new year’s decorations up in Tirana, so I got a nice dose of holiday. Also – whenever you are in Tirana for an extended period of time as a PCV here, you get a chance to see a lot of people you haven’t seen in a while
On Tuesday morning, when we got the OK from the Embassy to return home and a briefing on how best to help with flood relief efforts, I stayed behind. My counterpart Yllka came into town and met me and we together started a 4 day project design and management conference hosted by Peace Corps in Tirana. We are trying to apply for a grant in January to re-do a school yard here in Lezhë. It was a great event, very well facilitated and I learned a ton. Together Yllka and I had a chance to start on our grant proposal and we got a lot done, but it was definitely a draining event…and thinking all day in two languages makes it even more exhausting. I was so happy to hop on the bus to Lezhë yesterday for the first time in a week…it may be cold and wet here, but i love coming home.