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Dormont store owners rally to aid Bosnians hit by flooding

| Wednesday, May 21, 2014, 10:51 p.m.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
Mediha and Sedik Cehic, owners of Fredo’s Deli in Dormont, fled the former Yugoslavia in 1994 and ended up in the Pittsburgh area. Both lost family members in concentration camps during the Bosnian War.

Catastrophic flooding in Southeast Europe prompted Mediha Cehic to start a food drive at her Dormont market.

“Everything has happened so fast, and they don't have anything,” Cehic, 48, of Green Tree said on Wednesday from Fredo's Deli on Potomac Avenue.

Authorities in Bosnia, Serbia and parts of Croatia said at least 43 people have died and tens of thousands have been forced to flee their homes since a slow-moving system dumped three months worth of rain on the region in three days.

Last weekend, Cehic collected 60 boxes of food and items such as bottled water, diapers, medical supplies, soap, rubber gloves and paper towels. Another collection is planned for Saturday.

“This is a real disaster, something that's not man-made,” said the Rev. Rajko Kosic of the Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church in Whitehall, whose 300 members have raised $5,000 for relief efforts.

Kosic said his congregation was heavily affected by the destruction because many still have family who live in the region.

“This could happen to anybody, which is sort of why everybody felt it was so important to give,” he said.

Donations from Cehic and Holy Trinity will be sent to Saint Slava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in Cleveland. Church president Vujica Radevic sought help from all over.

“The danger from floods is still in effect, and many areas are completely under water,” he said. “In the areas where the water has subsided, the landslides threaten entire neighborhoods.”

The flooding washed out more than 100,000 homes and 230 schools, as well as businesses, roads and railways. Tens of thousands evacuated, including more than 20,000 in Serbia alone. About a million people are without drinking water in Bosnia, the government said.

Landslides triggered by the floods also raised the risk of injury or death from land mines left over from Bosnia's 1992-95 war. The rain caused hundreds of landslides in Bosnia, burying dozens of houses and cars and further complicating relief efforts.

“Bosnia is facing a horrible catastrophe,” Bakir Izetbegovic, chairman of the Bosnian three-man presidency, told reporters. “We are still not fully aware of actual dimensions of the catastrophe. ... We will have to take care of hundreds, thousands of people.”

The Associated Press contributed. Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or abrandolph@tribweb.com.

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