The Russian Far East, as well as parts of northern China, were inundated by unusually intense rainfall between July and mid-August, flooding many homes and a significant amount of farmland.
More than 80 people have died, and about 100 are missing, in both Russia and China.
Now, the Russian government has unveiled a 6 billion ruble aid package to begin to clean up the disaster. – Ed.
Six billion rubles will be allocated to restore agriculture in the Far East affected by the flood. The money will be used to subsidize interest rates on loans and lease payments, as well as to help individual farms in the region, said Nikolai Fyodorov, the Agriculture Minister, after a meeting with Yuri Trutnev, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Presidential Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District.
“Amur region, as the agricultural capital of the Far East, will receive 75% – 80% of this amount,” said Fedorov.
Losses from floods
According to Oleg Kozhemyako, the Governor of the Amur Region, the flood affected 25,000 family households in the region, and destroyed one third of the crop. According to him, only in November, once soybeans (the main crop in the region) are harvested, it will be known how many households went bankrupt. Fedorov said that it will take about three years “for everything to start working with the same quality and quantity as before.” The Minister of Agriculture believes that we need a separate program to restore soil fertility.
According to the office of the Presidential Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District, since the Far Eastern flood began 589,666 hectares of cultivated agricultural land has been flooded, including 511,000 hectares in the Amur region, 46,000 hectares in the Khabarovsk Territory, and 33,000 hectares in the Jewish Autonomous Region.
More than 135,000 people affected
Yuri Trutnev, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Presidential Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District, said in an interview to “Rossiyskaya Gazeta” that new housing for victims of flooding in the Far East would be built in the next year, and the evacuated people would spend this winter in hostels and resorts. “Each family has been accommodated in a separate room. It’s not just some mattresses on the floor, each room is warm and comfortable, and a family can easily live through the winter,” said Trutnev. “Of course, not too comfortable and not very good in terms of a more extended stay. But this is where people can live through the winter in normal conditions. Nobody will be cold, there will be areas to cook food.”
The updated figures on the damage caused by the flooding in the Far East will not be available until October, as reported by the Presidential Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District. According to him, as of today the number of flood victims exceeds 135,000 people. 32,000 residents have been evacuated, and more than 14,000 homes have been affected.
The flooded areas of the Far East, according to the volunteers, are “drowned” in useless things that Russians send to the region. Volunteer Vsevolod Makhov, involved in the flood relief efforts in the Far East, told ITAR-TASS that people need targeted assistance, citing the example of Yana Poplavskaya, a Russian movie star, or money that should be transferred directly to bank accounts.
“Today in Blagoveshchensk we paid 11,000 rubles to baggage handlers to unload an IL76 aircraft with humanitarian aid, more than half of which were useless items. For example, in some packages there were old clothes that were unfit to wear, broken microwave ovens, electric cookers,” said Makhov. “In one of the packages, in some crumpled boxes, we found baby food without appropriate certificates. And without such certificates we cannot send it to hospitals.”
Makhov noted that a lot of food received are items that residents do not need. “But people do not realize that the cost of shipped goods increases tenfold. For example, one kilogram of pasta costs 28 rubles in a wholesale warehouse in Blagoveshchensk. However, if that kilogram is transported from Moscow to the Far East, its cost reaches 570 rubles. If people really want to help the flood victims in the Far East, they can transfer donations directly to charity accounts, and here we will buy what the residents of the Far East region really need today,” he said.