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Kakheti crushed by rain

By Gvanca Gabekhadze
Tuesday, November 3
Non-stop rains have caused floods in Georgia’s Western Region of Kakheti, having hit four districts worst - Lagodekhi, Telavi, Akhmeta and Kvareli. Rescue operations were being conducted all through the night of November 1.

The rivers Ilto and Kabali have flooded agricultural land and basements in Lagodekhi and Akhmeta and damaged the Akhmeta-Tianeti Highway. A Special Commission has been set up to calculate the damage.

A swollen river has also flooded the land plots of sixty local families in the village of Pshaveti, in the Telavi district (also Kakheti region). The flood has completely destroyed the winter food supplies of the locals. Five villages have been damaged in Kvareli District. The Duruji and Shoreokhevi rivers in Kvareli District have wrecked pools of drinking water and high voltage electricity lines have been damaged. As the head of the Kvareli municipality, Levan Gamsakhurdia, said, the district is seriously damaged and material assistance is very much needed. “Unfortunately, due to the flood, Kvareli’s infrastructure is being ruined. Houses are damaged or in some cases destroyed, as are electricity lines. Domestic animals and birds have been killed and the natives have been left without winter supplies. It is still raining and now, in the village of Satskhene, several houses are in danger. Rescue groups and different services are mobilised in the region, but the level of water is very high and will not allow them to do their jobs properly,” Gamsakhurdia stated yesterday.

The river Kabali has divided the village of Uzuntali into two parts. Dozens of land plots and yards have been flooded. One house has been completely destroyed. The bridge connecting the villages of Kabali and Baisubani has also been destroyed.

Kabali resident Sardan Pashaev said that his present situation is very difficult. “I do not know what to do. Everything is ruined, my house is flooded and I am left without winter supplies. Our cattle and poultry have been annihilated as well.” The Kabali alcohol factory has also been seriously damaged. Factory owner Paata Khutilashvili has stated that the factory needs assistance to function again. “The factory building is significantly damaged, practically all its industrial mountings and reservoirs are damaged or ruined. We need assistance”. The situation is similar in Akhmeta District. The flood has destroyed part of the road to Tianeti District. The village of Shakhvetili has been isolated. Three families have been flooded in the village of Alvani.

On November 1 the flooding river Alazani cut off a farm in the Gurjaani district from the outside world. Ten people were surrounded by flood water, among them a baby of two months. Lifeguards were sent immediately and tried to evacuate them. It took four hours to find them and take them to another place. Five have now been taken home, two women and the infant among them, the others are at another farm. The Alazani also flooded the Chiauri Forest (in village of Heretiskari, Kakheti), where 5 fishermen were stranded. In the afternoon, on November 2, lifeguards managed to reach them. Heretiskari ward representative on the local authority Tariel Kimadze stated that these people have been taken to a safe place and their health is satisfactory.

The situation on the Gudauri–Kobi highway is difficult due to heavy snow and the threat of an avalanche. Specialists have been sent to conduct clearance works to restore movement, but Georgia’s Road Department head Ramaz Nikolaishvili has said that this work cannot yet take place. “All services are mobilised, but the clearing operations are being prevented by the very bad weather. They will start as soon as the weather improves a bit. The Gudauri-Kobi Highway is now closed to drivers,” stated Nikolaishvili.

As national weather forecast head Dodo Gvazava says, a significant improvement in the weather is not expected in the next few days. “Cold air masses have entered Georgia from Turkey, which have caused serious negative changes in the weather, rain in almost all areas of the country and snow in the highlands. We do not expect any significant positive changes in weather in the coming few days,” stated Gvazava.

Losses due to the weather are being calculated and figures will be known soon.