Annually, mid-spring aggravates one acute issue in Russia. Namely, floods. At the beginning of April, 24 regions of the country faced flooding. The water keeps coming, flooding roads, houses, fields, and bridges.
Dozens of bridges are flooded in the Voronezh and Tula regions. Over 800 houses are cut off from the “mainland.” In the Bryansk region, the water covered the road to two villages. Three roads were flooded in the Smolensk region. In the Saratov region, 7 bridges were flooded. A total of 260 land plots in the Irkutsk region were covered by water. In the Vladimir region, 16 villages of the region, with 700 residents, are “out of reach.”
For two days, 7 villages in the Kaluga region were isolated from the "mainland." The Ugra river overflowed its banks. The situation is aggravated by heavy rain in the region. The Ministry of Emergency Situations (EMERCOM) urges people to get ready for evacuation. Peak floods are expected very soon.
In the north of the country, in the Arkhangelsk region, the ice has also begun to break. The day before EMERCOM employees have removed three schoolchildren from the broken ice floe. They tried to shorten the way and went out on the thin ice.
A difficult situation occurred in Altai. During the first wave of the flood, there is a risk of flooding in 83 settlements in the region with over 25,000 residents. Transport communication might be disrupted with 56 settlements with 19,000 inhabitants.
The Krasnoyarsk territory is also waiting for the record-breaking floods. Even now, in some districts of the area, houses are already flooded up to the first floor and even up to the roof. In March, heavy snowfalls hit the Krasnoyarsk territory several times. Then it suddenly warmed up to 15 °C. Houses are floating, the rivers are overflowing, and the roads are washed away.
The villages of the Maritime territory are also going underwater. It was caused by the same reason, a sharp melting of the snow. The level of local rivers has risen up to almost 4m. A powerful stream of water has destroyed several bridges.
The floods also cut off two villages near Moscow from the federal road. Melted snow streams flooded the Oka crossing. The river rose by almost 1.5m. Residents had to be evacuated by water.
These figures are not just pallid statistics. There are people behind each of them, most often living in villages. Their quality of life has been already low. Due to the floods, many lose not only their houses and property but their health as well.
Are Regions Preparing for "big Water"?
According to hydrologists, floods will peak in the second half of April. Almost everywhere experts are working on protective measures against the danger of flooding. There will be floods, but the amount of damage will depend on how the regions are ready for them.
"The Zabaykalsky territory is not ready for floods in 2021. All hydraulic structures in the area are almost 100% worn out and require overhaul," Zaur Appoev, First Deputy Minister of Natural Resources of the territory, said on the brief meeting in the government.
Assuming that no floods are expected in Chita, according to experts, flood-controlling measures are being held only on paper. Although the situation might change at any moment. Chances are the situation will reoccur. Roads will be washed out, and people will be sitting on roofs. EMERCOM workers and volunteers in inflatable boats will try to bring bread and drinking water to flooded villages.
However, the situation is quite the opposite in Altai. The local government is making every effort to prepare for the “big water.” The examination of protection dikes and constructions showed that more than 70 hydraulic structures in Altai were abandoned posing serious danger during floods.
Victor Tomenko, the governor of Altai territory, said that all 215 hydraulic structures in the area were under investigation at the moment. About 38 of them are under special control. If they are not secured accident-free passage of water, it might cause a lot of trouble.
According to Tomenko, EMERCOM workers developed 192 models of situation development and each of them had its own plan of action. To accommodate people, if required by the emergency situation, 409 points of temporary accommodation are prepared for more than 70,000 people.
In the Novosibirsk region, work has already been carried out to undermine the ice on 32 rivers, which are blocked by ice. This was reported by Victor Orlov, the head of EMERCOM in the Novosibirsk region and Lieutenant-General of Internal Service.
According to him, experts cleared 47 difficult areas in the river beds. The flood situation in the region is monitored round the clock at 630 gauging stations. Pre-prepared and points of temporary accommodation are built for 4,000 people.
Protective measures are being worked out in the Stavropol territory. Stavropol Governor Vladimir Vladimirov ordered to check the region's readiness for the spring season. It is especially important against the backdrop of heavy rainfall. Riverbeds and storm sewers are being cleared. Last year 22 km of “troublesome” rivers were cleared. This year 500 mln rubles ($6,655) will be allocated for these works.
Preparations are being made to eliminate the consequences of floods in the Nizhny Novgorod region. For this purpose, the authorities are going to allocate over 2 mln rubles ($26,620) from the regional budget. The money will be used to evacuate the inhabitants in case of flooding of the settlements and to set up temporary accommodation centers.
Kuzbass is also waiting for big water. Sergey Tsiviliev, the Governor of the Kemerovo region, admitted that the flood of 2021 would be "a serious challenge." The peculiarities of the climate of last winter make it highly likely. The ground froze through for 3m or more. At the beginning of the winter, there was very little precipitation. The ice on Kuzbass reservoirs is significantly impressive. The snowfall made the problem even more acute. According to Tsiviliev, all efforts are focused on preparing for the floods and an algorithm of actions in case of the worst case scenario.
The South Urals oil pipelines of Transneft-Ural performed a comprehensive inspection. Experts confirmed that 4,300 gate valves at the process pipelines were fully operational and that almost 190 reservoirs for oil and petroleum products storage were ready. According to Transneft-Ural, everything, even all slightest details, is under control for successful work during the arrival of the “big water.”
The situation with floods is aggravated by warm weather. In some places in the central part of Russia, the air heats up to 15 °C during the day. Cyclones bring warm air masses, snowmelt and even large rivers might overflow their banks.
Spring has just started in Russia, and it is not yet known how serious floods will be. However, according to reports from EMERCOM, many regions are preparing for the worst-case scenario.