They now call Iowa home, but their family and friends in Bosnia and Serbia are living through the worst flooding in more than a century.
“It’s complete devastation,” says Maria Balac.
About three months worth of rain fell in just three days. Flood water destroyed homes and mudslides that swallowed up entire villages.
“I was homeless at some point and I could relate to those people. How helpless, how unfortunate, how sad for those mom with kids, old people. They just have to lay on a mattress on the floor in a gym,” says Balac.
Years ago, she slept on some of those same gym floors. In 1995, she was a refugee in Serbia.
“Serbia opened their arms to us,” she says.
A million people were forced from their homes due to the flooding. As the water recedes, many of them are left with nothing.
“We feel really sorry for them and we contact many of our friends ,” says Ljubisa Dragojevic.
St. Demetrius Serbian Orthodox Church in Des Moines is collecting donations for the flood relief. Volunteers already packed up a truck load of clothing and personal care items to be shipped overseas.
“It’s so sad for us and it’s the only way we can help them,” says Dragojevic.
“They helped us when we really needed help the most,” says Balac, “This is only fair to give back.”
The church plans to send another shipment of supplies. Volunteers say personal care items, diapers, socks and underwear are needed most.