Flooding in Georgia destroys homes & isolates communities
GEORGIA - Thousands of people have been affected by heavy rains and floods that damaged villages in the west of Georgia this week. About 100 villages, mainly in mountainous areas, were damaged as a result of the five-day heavy rains.
Rainwater damaged access roads and bridges, isolating inhabitants of more than 50 villages. The electricity supply was disrupted and access to district centres was reduced. Racha, Lechkhumi, Zemo Svaneti and Imereti regions are among the most affected areas.
World Vision staff are determining if a World Food Programme project joint-funded by World Vision Canada in the Imereti region was impacted. The project has provided food assistance to around 26,800 people. Assessments will be conducted as soon as staff can access areas. World Vision does not have child sponsorship projects in Georgia.
Agricultural lands have been damaged. The threat of landslides in some areas has prompted the need for immediate evacuation of more than 300 people. Water levels have decreased in the rivers, yet rains continue, hampering rescue efforts and hindering the gathering of accurate data of damage and number of people affected.
World Vision Georgia is a member of the Disaster Management Team (DMT), a consortium of international aid agencies, under the leadership of the UN Resident and Humanitarian Co-ordinator. The group is discussing possible assistance details with the Government of Georgia. This includes the need for a joint assessment and emergency aid early next week.
Heavy rains have also affected several villages in the Shida Kartli region in east Georgia. The risk of landslides has the local government working to improve river bank protection. The rain has also reached the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. The level of the River Mtkvari has risen and flooded 10 houses but according to the Mayor of Tbilisi, it is below the risk level and there is no threat of flooding the capital.
The Prime Minister of Georgia, Zurab Noghaideli visited the affected west Georgia districts. Later, the President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, made a televised statement pledging maximum support and the mobilisation of government resources to provide financial, emergency humanitarian and technical assistance. Tents, all military trucks and helicopters, and Tbilisi road transport have been mobilised for rescue operations.
A special governmental session was held yesterday to determine the government's action plan and to estimate damage. Request for international assistance has not been made.
A Special Crises group, set up under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is responsible for providing updated information to international organisations and foreign media representatives.