By Stephen Ryan, IFRC
Extremely heavy rainfall in Russia and China since the end of July has caused the Amur River to rise to record levels, burst its banks and flood surrounding areas.
The flooding is the worst to hit the region in over a century, with over 34,000 people affected and 130 settlements across 25 municipalities already under water, according to an emergency report of Russia’s EMERCOM.
The Amur River, which serves as a natural border between Russia and north-east China, is currently running at the record level of nearly 7 metres, and it is feared that it will continue to rise. Evacuations have begun in Khabarovsk, the administrative capital of the Far Eastern Federal District.
Local meteorological services expect that the water level could exceed 7.8 metres in the coming days: the extreme danger-mark. The authorities are preparing for the worst and have established tent camps on high ground. Other major cities are also bracing themselves as the floodwater surges downstream.
The authorities have already evacuated over 22,000 people from the three most severely affected areas, including over 7,000 children, and established temporary shelter camps in schools and other buildings. Further temporary shelters have been prepared, in case the situation continues to worsen.
The Russian Red Cross Society has launched a domestic appeal to raise resources to respond to the disaster, highlighting that the people living in the flooded area have been severely affected. Many families are in a precarious situation having lost the most basic of items when their homes were overrun by the floodwater.
The IFRC has allocated 412,626 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the Russian Red Cross Society in its response to the emergency and to provide immediate support to the people affected.
The Russian Red Cross Society will focus its efforts on the 3,000 worst-affected families, providing supplementary food parcels, hygiene kits, bed linen, blankets, and other relief items. The National Society’s staff and volunteers have moved into disaster response mode, both in Moscow and at the local Red Cross branches in the affected areas.