DHA-Geneva Situation Report No. 1
26 June 1997
I. DISASTER OVERVIEW
1. Between approximately 7.45 p.m. and 9.15 p.m. on 22 June 1997, 82 mm of rain fell on Goris town and the surrounding areas in Southern Armenia near the border with Azerbaijan. The level of precipitation in the area on 22 June had not been experienced since records began to be kept 70 years ago. Due to the location of the town in a valley surrounded on all sides by steep hills and mountains, large amounts of water flowed through the town in a very short period of time. The local flood-channel system was unable to cope with the flow and parts of the town were submerged in very fast-moving water and mud. A number of houses were flooded, roads were literally washed away or carried downstream, sewage and drinking water systems were destroyed. Four lives were lost and a number of other people received injuries. Considering the extensive damage, it is surprising that fatalities and injuries were not considerably higher.
2. At the request of the Deputy Minister of the Emergency Management Administration of the Republic of Armenia (EMA), DHA staff undertook a joint disaster assessment mission with EMA to Goris on 24 and 25 June 1997. Full report prepared by DHA field team is available from DHA-Geneva upon request.
II. DAMAGE ASSESSMENT
3. Below are preliminary governmental findings:
- approximately 2,000 people are without road connections to the main town.
- approximately 5,000 people are without direct access to drinking water.
- 1,200 households are without electricity or access to electricity.
- 1,700 metres of sewage pipes have been destroyed.
- 800 metres of fresh water pipes have been destroyed.
- 47,500 m3 of sand and rocks have been deposited within the town limits, in some places up to 3 metres in depth.
- 5,000 m3 of storm drains have been damaged or destroyed.
- 2,000 m2 of roads have been destroyed.
- 42,000 m3 of debris need to be cleared from the Varakan river in order to ensure a clear flow of any future flood water from the town.
- 2 bridges have been completely destroyed, others show signs of structural damage.
III. DAMAGE ESTIMATES:
4. Initial governmental estimates quote a figure of US Dollars 8,000,000 as representing damage to Goris and the surrounding villages.
5. Preliminary emergency repair works to secure the water and sewage systems, restore power and some form of communication between Goris town centre and the suburbs are estimated at US Dollars 200,000 (100,000,000 Armenian Drams). This sum does not include the repair to the critical storm-drainage system.
IV. MISSION CONCLUSIONS
6. The risk of the outbreak of an epidemic of some form of water-borne disease cannot, at this stage, be discounted, given the multiple fractures of sewage and water lines, often running in close proximity to one another, combined with the overall water shortage being experienced.
7. The town is now without any form of defence from a further storm situation.
8. Whilst there are no reports of people being made homeless, a number of dwellings have had part of their foundations washed away and are, thus, unsafe. Remedial work is urgently required to secure these homes. Additionally, the basements and ground floors of a number of dwellings are now submerged in mud, which is causing structural damage to the homes. Removal of the debris is a priority to prevent further damage.
9. Losses of crops and home-based gardens will, in the longer-term, cause some food shortage for the winter.
10. On a region-wide basis, including villages in Sisian and Goris districts, approximately 5,850 metric tons of wheat, barley, cereals, potatoes and vegetables have been destroyed, causing a loss of income to farmers and small-holders. Again, food and income shortages may be anticipated.
V. NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE
11. The national and local authorities are making large efforts to address the multiple problems caused by the events of 22 June. However, central government resources are now limited, given the occurrence of floods in other parts of the country in April, May and June of this year. Thus external assistance is sought in the mitigation of the consequences of this disaster.
12. The United Nation Resident Coordinator in Yeravan will convene a UN system meeting on 26 June to overview UN response to the disaster. A second meeting with representatives of embassies and international organizations working in Armenia will be held on 27 June.
13. DHA-Geneva released a USD 10,000 emergency grant for immediate provision of relief assistance to the affected population.
14. DHA is prepared to serve as a channel for cash contributions, to be used during the immediate relief phase, in coordination/consultation with relevant organizations of the United Nations system. DHA provides donors with written confirmation and pertinent details concerning the utilization of the funds contributed.
15. Donors wishing to channel their contributions through DHA should transfer funds to DHA account no. CO.590.160.1 at the Swiss Bank Corporation, Case Postale 2770, CH-1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland, with reference: Armenia/floods, DHA-Geneva.
16. For coordination purposes, donors are requested to inform DHA Geneva, as indicated below, of relief missions/ pledges/contributions and their corresponding values by item.
Telephone number: +41-22-917-1234
In case of emergency only: +41-22-917-2010
Desk Officer: Mr. Sergio Piazzi, direct tel: +41-22-917-3518
Press to contact: Ms. M. Moulin-Acevedo, direct tel: +41-22-917-2856
Telex: 41 42 42 dha ch
DEPARTMENT OF HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS