New Ice Age in Europe: Romania
Dream became a Nightmare
As snowing took over Romania,
authorities were forced to tackle, in short periods of time, with calls from different
parts of the country, from people asking help. Ambulances, police, firemen, everybody
was asked for help, in places where people's houses were simply snowed under,
but also in big cities, such as the capital, Bucharest
Low temperatures hit Romania this winter like they haven't done in some years
now. Several of the main televisions and newspapers in the country were "screaming"
that this is going to be like the winter of 1954, which remains in the history
of this country as one of the coldest and hardest, when snow could reach meters
in high, and temperatures were really going below zero.
More than 50
people died this winter, mainly due to poor living conditions. The main highway
leading to the seaside was blocked for days, with other principal routes to
and from Bucharest being closed for several days, too. Images showed people leaving
their cars in the middle of the road, walking or trying to call for help, while
those who were commuting had to skip days of work.
This is something that
other European countries, used to harsh winters, are always prepared to cope it
and are always responsive from the first snowfalls. In Romania, however, the
authorities, although warned that this might happen, failed to be prepared.
Dumpster tracks were equipped only to push the snow from the main streets onto
the sidewalks, while, inside the neighbourhoods, streets were to be clean by the
people living there, only equipped with a shovel, lots of patience and some really
warm clothes. But no real machines for dealing with snow and ice were used.
The white dream is not so dreamy
winter comes every year, the question that arises is when snow is going to show
up. For some, it appears just in time for Christmas and New Year's Eve, granting
people, especially children, one of those White Christmas experiences. But, what
people fail to see, is that beyond that wonderful and colourful idea of a snowy
Christmas, other side-effects need to be taken into consideration: blisters, places
snowed under, and the lack of some countries to tackle a very powerful and cold
This is what happened this year in Romania. The country did
not exactly faced a White Christmas period - except for in some mountain places,
where skiing is the main activity these months, but had a rather peaceful, and
somewhat rainy December, along with the first half of January. But, starting the
second half of January, a cold wave moved to this part of Europe and started causing
As snowing took over Romania, authorities were forced to tackle,
in short periods of time, with calls from different parts of the country, from
people asking help. Ambulances, police, firemen, everybody was asked for help,
in places where people's houses were simply snowed under, but also in big cities,
such as the capital, Bucharest.
poor condition of houses, mainly in rural areas, together with the unsuccessful
combination of materials used in building them, allowed cold to enter and be kept,
while the snow damaged walls and roofs. But what lead to this was not just winter
coming when some thought it might not, but winter coming over some unprepared
authorities. Very few mayors and city-halls were very properly equipped to
deal with the heavy snow, decreasing temperatures - even Bucharest witnessed -21
C degrees, something rarely seen in this part of the country - and panicking people.
As the main idea was to clean up the snow once it's stopped snowing, many people
found themselves stranded in their own houses, with snow reaching their windows
and even covering it, showing barely signs of life and asking for help when their
more fortunate neighbours or the authorities came to check on them.
that was not all. Traffic in Bucharest became a mess, as some cars were equipped
with tires for winter, while others - such as Taxi cars - were not. Everyone was
trying to get home, and in this chaos some left their cars at home, only to not
be able to recognise them the next morning - as snow totally covered them
- or to not be able to leave because a pile of snow, of almost half a meter was
blocking their exit. On top of all this, the media could not stop but gave end-of-the-world-look-alike
messages, which created panic among people, forcing them to behave dangerously
once outside of their house, but also inducing huge shopping of basic foods, such
as bread, eggs, sugar, flour, etc.
This proved two things: that the Romanian
authorities are not able to cope with snow and low temperatures - something which
could have been noticed in other winters too, thou not like this year - but, also,
that people are prone to panicking and to guide themselves more over what the
TV channels and newspapers tell them, then what they could find out on their own
and believe in.