Russian villagers build homemade dam to keep out floods

By Thomson Reuters Apr 17, 2024 | 12:03 PM

PEROVSKY, Russia (Reuters) – As floods engulfed large parts of central Russia, residents of one village defied advice to flee their homes and started building a homemade dam.

Ivan Chernomorets, a resident of Perovsky near the city of Orenburg, said that after evacuating children and older people last week, a group of 20-30 locals set about constructing the wall of earth which stretches for 1,440 metres, or 9/10 of a mile.

It was a race against time.

“After the water started rising, we realised we couldn’t cope on our own and we started hiring (earthmoving) equipment. By this point the water had risen by about a metre in two days,” he said.

Other villagers took time off work to join in, and by the peak of activity late last week a couple of hundred people were working around the clock, with dozens of others providing food, he said.

Residents said the embankment had prevented floodwater from engulfing a large area with houses, apartments, a kindergarten and a medical centre.

Drone footage shot at the height of the flood last Saturday shows the earthen wall dividing the village from a huge expanse of water and partly submerged trees.

Russia’s Urals region and northern Kazakhstan are suffering the worst flooding in memory, as large snowfalls have melted rapidly and heavy rain has fallen on ground that was already waterlogged before winter.

Orenburg governor Denis Pasler said on Wednesday the emergencies minister had praised the “high level of organisation” of flood relief work in the region. Pasler said clean-up efforts were continuing and compensation would be paid to people who had been affected.

(Reporting by Reuters, writing by Mark Trevelyan)