Belarus: Floods - Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) DREF Operation n° MDRBY008

A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

On 15 March 2018, a meeting of the Emergency Situations Commission of the Republic of Belarus was held to discuss the coming spring floods in Belarus.
The meeting was facilitated by the Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus. The Belarus Red Cross participated in the meeting, where the leaders of the country asked the BRC to mobilise staff, volunteers and funds to support the affected population. The Emergency Situations Commission stated that the analysis of the hydrometeorological conditions has shown that in 43 districts the territory of 140 villages and towns and 36 gardeners’ partnerships will suffer from flooding. Moreover, some elements of transport infrastructure (70 road segments and 15 bridges) and dwelling houses (including 6,608 garden cottages) can be affected.

On 19 March, floods were reported by the Belarusian authorities, local media and Belarus Red Cross (BRC) branches, with 316 houses reported to be flooded in three regions of the country. According to information provided by hydro-meteorological agencies, rapidly-increasing volumes of water are observed across the entire country. The rise of water levels amounts to 10–200 cm per day, depending on the district.

The Ministry of Emergencies predicts that 140 villages and towns and 36 gardeners’ partnerships will be affected by floods in a total of 43 districts. In addition, 70 road segments and 15 bridges, and at least 6,600 garden cottages are estimated to be flooded in the next two weeks. The water level of rivers is rising, with ice still covering the rivers Western Dvina, Dniepr, Berezina, Sozh, as well as the Vileiskoe, Chigirinskoe, Zaslavskoe, Soligorskoe, Krasnaya Sloboda water storages, and the lakes Drivyaty, Naroch, Chervonoe. With the melting of ice, significant increases of water levels are expected. Snow is still on the ground in some districts, reaching up to 20 cm. As of 21 March, it was also snowing, which has further worsened the situation with thawing. The daily water-level fluctuation in the rivers is on average 12 cm. In many rivers, the level of water is already above bottom land. Rivers Pripyat, Sluch and Ubort will reach the crucial level of water within a few days. The most critical areas are the ones near village Chernichi, in Gomel region. 1,356 houses are fully or partially flooded.

Because of precipitations and land overwatering since December 2017 there was a high water level in rivers. In JanuaryFebruary rapid diurnal water variations determined by ice jam were noted. The water level of river was higher than usual for the season: high marks in the Sozh and Pripyat basins were recorded, the water levels approached dangerous marks on the Neman and the Dnieper, some parts of Pripyat and its tributaries. The water broke and flooded on the fields on the Neman River near the village of Belitsa, the Dnieper River - Rechitsa and the town of Loev, the Svisloch River - near the village of Terebuty, the Pripyat River - near the village of Chernichi, Mozyr and Narovlya, its tributaries Styr, Sluch, Ubort, Ptich.

While breaking up of the ice of rivers, forming of small mashes and ice jam on narrow sections of river beds and in areas of bridge structures is still possible. It can cause the deterioration of the hydrological situation and lead to an increase of water level and flooding. Humanitarian support, transportation, psychosocial support are much needed.

Consequent to the floods and ice flow, a pontoon crossing which had been previously prepared to replace the broken bridge across Pripyat river, has broken down. The bridge was the main transport corridor connecting the central and southern part of Belarus trough the highway P-88 Zhitkovichi - David Gorodok - the villages of Chernici in the Zhitkovichi District. The Ministry of Emergencies and the Ministry of Defense provide boats to organise transportation of citizens. It is currently not possible to re-install the pontoon because of slob ice and rising water levels.