Click on arrows
to find more
these themes








district council member




July 1999


This is a short and articulate interview, which focuses mainly on the flood. Zbigniew believes the authorities are primarily to blame for the degree of damage: “I was trying to somehow co-ordinate the actions of the helpless and badly organised Flood Committee. There was total misinformation, there was no information about the coming danger, although several weeks, months later, it turned out that it was only faulty organisation… That we could have been warned much earlier”. Although he had time to remove his possessions, he believes that most people were not prepared: “unfortunately, nobody had the bright idea to come a bit down the river and warn people, say ‘take whatever you can’ cause there is a danger. In two hours you could really do a lot”.

“One thing is certain,” he believes, “the flood made people show their real attitudes and moral strength”. Initially, people helped each other and “undoubtedly, at first, the reactions were positive, people were grateful, but immediately after that, you could notice attitudes of requirement, people saying, ‘give us, we are entitled, you have to …’ What’s more, quite soon people started getting envious”. He believes a culture of dependence was created among some people, and “in some extreme cases, people took so many various items that they had to throw them away later. It often happened with the clothes…”.

The narrator is “strongly attached” to the mountains and would only ever move to another mountainous region. But “this flood here and all that happened as a result of irresponsible policies, in the former years, it should be a warning to us, that we have to prepare a new model of functioning and farming in the mountains and generally – existing here”.

detailed breakdown

You will need a password from Panos to view the full transcript of the interview. To apply for a password, click here.

Once you have a password, click here to go to the beginning of the transcript. You can also click on any section of the breakdown of content below and go straight to the corresponding part of the transcript.


Section 1  The beginning of the flood: he phoned the mayor at 5am to warn him (“practically speaking, I could have done it earlier but I didn’t want to wake up the mayor”). He compares the “exceptionally high” level to the flood of 1952 and tells a nice anecdote about people’s “irrational” reactions then.
Section 2  Most people were surprised by the larger, second wave: “frankly speaking, hardly anyone suspected that several hours later, the situation would be replayed, that it would be much more difficult”. Lack of official preparation and organisation was compounded by disbelief: “simply nobody expected such a situation to take place”.
Section 3-4  Blames the Flood Committee completely. He had enough time to save his beehives and animals, but others were so lucky. Detail on the actual flooding. He was not afraid, although he knows it could have been much worse: “… if the dam had broken, I cannot imagine the damage”.
Section 5  Thinks “nature itself wasn’t that affected” by the flood, but the infrastructure, especially bridges, was devastated. Transport “was… sometimes paralysed”. The area looked “sad, very sad, very depressing” in the aftermath. However, those affected “received spontaneous, unselfish, very warm, immediate assistance” from their neighbours and local businesses. But this in turn created dependence and “those who didn’t get anything were not happy about it to say the least. It caused considerable discord among people which lasts until this very day”.
Section 6  Describes how some people waited around for assistance, rather than helping themselves. He received “the famous 3000 zlotys”. He thinks “the decision to deliver this sort of assistance was also in bad taste” and some people abused it.
Section 7  The flood also caused some psychological problems, especially among children: “small children, weeks after the flood, when it started raining, they said “Close the door, the water’s coming again” … Children’s nervous systems are less resistant to such stresses”. Although he emphasises his rational response to the flood, which he regards as a “rare natural phenomenon” , he admits it may also be a warning: “… God’s finger being waved at us, so that we changed our ways”.
Section 8-9  Feels the flood demonstrated that there should be a “new model of functioning and farming in the mountains”. Another lesson learned is that “it is worthwhile to work a bit on getting prepared so that you shouldn’t act irrationally in case of any danger, to control your expectations”.