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Worst storm in 45 years lashes Western Georgia

By Londa Mindiashvili
Monday, August 10
Strong winds battered Poti at about 2 am. on Sunday morning. The storm inflicted serious damage on the port city. The central streets of the town, the Pazisi, St. George and Besiki streets, were badly damaged.

The strong wind took the roofs off more than 30 houses. Heavy rain then damaged these houses further and caused floods in some districts. The ground floors of houses in these districts were flooded. The storm also tore down the electricity cables, leaving part of the town without electricity, and hampered the work of the pumping stations.

The citizens of Poti have asked the Government for help. The damaged electricity wires have been recovered and the electricity supply restored. Lela Sharukhia, the Deputy Mayor of Poti, said a special commission has been set up that will quantify the damage inflicted by the storm. The local authority has promised to help the population.

Heavy rain also inflicted damage on other districts and villages of Georgia, including Pshavi and about seven villages in Akhaltsikhe. The rain forced the River Aragvi to rise and break its banks in Pshavi district. Roads have been damaged by the flooding river, and the locals are thus travelling by horse rather than car. The most damaged villages in Pshavi are Shuapkho and Kvesheti, where the Iantalo Khevi River rose and flooded most of the houses there. If the rainy weather continues other homes may be flooded as well. Locals said there has not been such a heavy downpour for 45 years. In Akhaltsikhe agricultural plots and farms were flooded. Domestic animals and birds died. The main road of the district was damaged. The River Mtkvari also rose. Clearance works have been undertaken in the town and villages, but the losses have not yet been quantified.

Svetlana Nioradze, the head of the Meteorological Centre of the Ministry of Environmental Protection’s Meteorological and Forecast Centre, said that this year’s cool and rainy summer is not unusual and has no connection with global worming. The Deputy Chairman of the Hydrometeorological Department of the UN National Agency in Georgia, Jemal Dolidze, agreed with Nioradze and explained: “Such extreme rainfall is not natural for Georgia, however, that does not mean that it should never occur. It is caused by global atmospheric circulation, which causes droughts in some countries and heavy rain in others. So this summer’s cool and rainy weather is not unusual. As for the whole month, the weather forecast for the rest of August is not yet known.”