Floods that caused at least 15 deaths in Poland could cost near 2.5 billion euro (US$3 billion) in damages. At a time when responsibilities, if any, are yet to be determined, Poland Interior Minister Jerzy Miller has accused beavers of being partially to blame.
"The greatest enemy of the flood defenses is an animal called the beaver. Beavers live all along levees on the Vistula River and cause a lot of damage to them," Jerzy Miller said.
According to the Polish government, roughly 20,000 beavers inhabit Poland’s rivers, and are a protected species. Beavers were endangered in the 1950s, but have since rebounded because of a successful breeding program.
Pawel Fratczak, Poland's national fire brigade spokesman explained to reporters, "Beavers dig tunnels in the flood defenses, weakening them from inside. But they are not alone, there are also water voles."
According to Miller, some dikes broke due to the accumulation of water and to holes made by beavers, inundating several cities in southeast and central Poland.
Initial financial assistance of 2 billions zlotys (US$592 million) was announced on by the government on Tuesday.
"We have created a large deposit of 8 billion zlotys (US$3.37 billion). We know that this does not need to be so large, we therefore can have 2 billion zlotys available immediately [to] help those who have lost their homes," Tusk said at a press conference.
Tusk emphasized that the public debt would not increase as a result of the help provided to victims. His government also plans to ask the European Union for “financial aid for repair and rebuilding, including for 'kilometers of levees," reported Business Week.