MONUMENTAL DELUGE: Widespread Flooding – The Latest Reports Of High Tides, Heavy Rainfall, Flash Floods, Sea Level Rise, And Catastrophic Storms!

April 18, 2015 – EARTH – The following list constitutes the latest reports of high tides, heavy rainfall, flash floods, widespread flooding, sea level rise and catastrophic storms.

At least 4 passengers dead after bus is swept away by floods near Mandera, Kenya

Passengers atop a bus that was swept away by flash floods as it tried to cross a seasonal river at Gadudia in Mandera County on April 16, 2015.

At least four passengers were killed while more than 20 remained unaccounted for after floods swept away a bus in Mandera on Thursday.

County Commissioner Alex ole Nkoyo, who confirmed the four deaths, said rescuers were still searching for more bodies along the river where the incident occurred.

The bus, Mr Nkoyo said, had 59 passengers with an unknown number of children when it was rummaged by the fierce waters. Only 42 passengers had been rescued by around 5pm, Mr Nkoyo said.

There were fears that the number of those killed following the floods could rise as signs of more passengers being rescued faded as darkness neared.

“We had the police escort but their vehicle had already crossed the Gadudia seasonal river in which the bus stalled before it flooded,” said Mr Nkoyo. The bus was traveling from Mandera to Nairobi.

Scores of passengers were washed away as others climbed on top of the bus to save their lives.

Mandera Kenya Red Cross Society coordinator Ahmed Mohamed also said 42 passengers who were in the bus as it tried to cross the river had been rescued by 2pm.

Mr Mohamed said the rescue operation was under way and involved the KRSC, the military and other government organs.

“We will brief you as the operation continues. It is ongoing. We will confirm the whereabouts of the rest,” he said.

The KRCS official said the bus, which overturned after being rummaged by the floods, had been removed from the waters and turned over.

The bus got stuck in the mud before it was swept away by floods along with its passengers.

Mandera Town

“Several people have been carried away but the rest are on top of the bus after coming out through the windows,” Mr Nkoyo had said earlier.

“The water level is coming down and we have formed a human wall to help rescue those on the bus and those who might have drowned,” he added.

The incident occurred 35 kilometres from Mandera Town.

The bus was said to be the only one from Mandera that was heading to Nairobi as other bus companies kept off the roads due to heavy rains.

Chile Faces $1.5 Billion Costs of Flood Damage

Chile is now facing costs of around $1.5 billion in construction costs and economic reactivation in the flood-hit north of the country. But based on preliminary analysis, Fitch Ratings believes that insurance industry solvency will not be affected.

In their statement of 14 April, Fitch said it believes that insurance industry solvency will not be affected by the recent floods in northern Chile (second and third region). The Chilean property/casualty insurance industry will adequately absorb the incurred claims and will result in a limited effect in 2015 fiscal year net income.

Fitch say that, compared to Chile’s 2010 earthquake, geographical extent and population density of the flood-affected area is more limited. Meanwhile, the Chilean insurance industry has solid risk coverage, which besides strong underwriting policies, includes solid reinsurance protection for retained risks and catastrophic events.

“The agency considers unlikely an impact on the insurers’ solvency and ratings due to the limited effect in net loss ratios, which mainly will be derived from infrastructure damage, roads, commercial buildings and housing claims”.

Damage and Costs

Fitch say that the largest impact of the catastrophe will be on industrial infrastructure, considering the importance of the mining operations in the area, housing, public buildings, commercial infrastructure and to a lesser extent damage to vehicles. Over 2,000 homes were destroyed and over 6,000 damaged in the floods.

Difficulties in collecting damage information have delayed estimates of the economic costs of the disaster, and therefore also estimations of claims cost that insurers face locally. The Chilean government has estimated the construction costs and economic reactivation in the area at approximately $1.5 billion USD.

Grape and Olive Production

Despite promises of financial help for flood hit farmers, the effects of the flood disaster, particularly in the Copiapo Valley, are expected to result in be felt in decreased table grape output in future seasons.

In a recent statement, Copiapo Valley Agricultural Producers and Exporters Association (APECO) president Lina Arrieta said, “Making a preliminary estimate, it seems as though the table grape production will be reduced by at least 30% over the coming seasons.”

Meanwhile the regions olive farmers are also suffering. Fresh Fruit Portal report that mud up to 50cm deep dumped by the floods is hampering the chances of harvesting olives on time.

Unregulated Development Exacerbated Kashmir Floods

The Jhelum Valley received unparalleled rains during September 2014. However, the inconvenient fact remains that the Kashmir flood disaster was notably exacerbated by human interventions in the river basin, reports Bharat Lal Seth for International Rivers.

Jhelum River Basin Floods, September 2015

Last year the Jhelum River Basin received unprecedented rainfall in the Kashmir Valley. It was the wettest September in recorded history; several weather stations broke their 24 and 48 hour records. The administrators in the region were swift to call the downpour and resulting deluge a “hydro-met tragedy”. Hydro-met is a contraction for the terms hydrological and meteorological, and therefore the loss of lives, infrastructure and property in this flood disaster was laid squarely on unpredictable precipitation patterns and a fast changing climate. Yet, although undeniably the Jhelum Valley received unparalleled September rains, the inconvenient fact remains that the disaster was notably exacerbated by human interventions in the river basin.

The flood waters of the river Jhelum breached embankments at various points in September 2014 Photo: Bharat Lal Seth
The flood waters of the river Jhelum breached embankments at various points in September 2014
Photo: Bharat Lal Seth

In a candid concession, Javed Jafar, chief engineer of the irrigation and flood control department, said that besides heavy rain and discharge, the urban and rural encroachments in the river basin – including infrastructure such as railway lines, expressway and other roads – played a negative role in creating bottlenecks, which exacerbated the floods to the tune of “15-20%”. What Jafar meanderingly acknowledged, but didn’t stress, is the need for better infrastructural planning in the floodplain instead of encroaching and building on the wetlands and lakes that are a natural sponge for floodwaters.

“Our master planning is skewed. Under the garb of tourism there is a cartel, which acts against the preservation of ecosystems. We need to do away with development without planning,” said Iftikhar A. Hakim, chief town planner of Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir that was badly hit by the September floods.

“Srinagar, with a population of 1.4 million, is not only exposed to constant danger from floods, but is itself the cause of floods”

“Srinagar, with a population of 1.4 million, is not only exposed to constant danger from floods, but is itself the cause of floods” he added, saying that unregulated urbanization worsened the impacts of the flood.

At a media workshop held April 6-8, organized by the Centre for Environment Education and The Third Pole, it was made clear by expert presentations and a visit to particular river catchments that urban and rural encroachments in the floodplain worsened the risks and impacts of flooding in the valley. “We didn’t fail in 2014; we failed much before it,” said Saleem Beg, a member of the National Monuments Authority. “We’re doing away with wetlands and water bodies essential for the health of the river system”, he said. The authority, among other things, is responsible for considering permissions for construction in prohibited and regulated areas.

The Jhelum, 725 kilometers in length, has the calmest descent among the Himalayan rivers in the Indus River Basin. In 150 km of the upper stretch the river descends a mere 24-meters, which makes the Jhelum a relatively silent river that is inclined to overflow its banks in the Kashmir valley. This characteristic makes the drainage basin wetland and system of lakes particularly vital to deal with floodwaters. Inspite of this, the spread of Wular Lake, one of the largest freshwater lakes in Asia, and part of the Jhelum drainage basin, reduced from 159 sq km in 1911 to 86 sq km in 2007. Due to such happenings the carrying capacity of the river basin is reducing; the volume of flood discharge in September 2014 was three times the carrying capacity of the river.

The spread of Wular lake, part of the Jhelum drainage basin, reduced from 159 sq km in 1911 to 86 sq km in 2007 Bharat Lal Seth
The spread of Wular lake, part of the Jhelum drainage basin, reduced from 159 sq km in 1911 to 86 sq km in 2007.
Photo: Bharat Lal Seth


Weather Forecaster in Hot Seat

During the period 1901-2013, the average September rainfall in the region has been approximately 33 mm. Notably, six times the average was received last year. At last week’s workshop, Sonam Lotus, scientist with the Indian Meteorology Department, stationed in Kashmir for more than 9 years, talked us through the terrifying days of September 1 to 7. Very high rainfall was received on the 3rd night and 4th morning. Sonam, in the hot seat, gave a warning to the administrators on the 3rd afternoon that they would have a “window period” as they were “not expecting this much water”. Instead there was incessant downpour over the next 48 hours and beyond, with no window period in sight. The misinformation was labeled as “human limitation”, and Sonam claimed that with the technology at his disposal it wasn’t possible to predict such high “abnormal” rainfall with certainty. “Don’t wait for the disaster, prepare now,” says Sonam now, alluding to the fact that much can be done in terms of giving the river space as well as in disaster preparedness. He spoke of a conversation in May last year that he had with a water resources engineer who had a premonition that “the big flood was coming”.

“How good are we at spotting trends? The media is there when it happens, but what happens before?” questioned Joydeep Gupta of The Third Pole, co-organizer of the workshop, stressing the need for pre-disaster awareness and reporting.

Natural calamities are only further heightened when short-term real estate interests eschew the functions of a floodplain. The same was the case in Uttarakhand in 2013, when hydropower projects, rampant muck dumping and river bank encroachments worsened the impact of the raging flood waters.

Given the increasing occurrence of such intense and incessant week-long rainfall events, it is essential to put in place preventive measures that assist in delaying water flow in the catchment – not only to the main stem, but also the streams and tributaries, water bodies and lakes, which together increase the carrying capacity in the river basin. Our interventions on and around rivers need to be scrutinized not just in the postmortem of such tragedies, but re-engineered in to our nonexistent River Basin planning.

Kazakhstan – 15,000 Evacuated as Melting Snow Causes Floods in 4 Regions

Higher temperatures during the last fews days of March, and then again from 06 April, have increased the melting of snow and caused widespread flooding in central and eastern Kazakhstan since 12 April 2015.

Local media say temperatures rose to around 20 degrees Centigrade. The rise in temperatures was accompanied by rainfall in some areas, increasing snowmelt further, and resulting in flooding in at least 4 regions.

Snowmelt floods in Kazakhstan, April 2015. Photo: Emergency Committee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Kazakhstan

Snowmelt floods in Kazakhstan, April 2015. Photo: Emergency Committee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Kazakhstan

Snowmelt floods in Kazakhstan, April 2015. Photo: Emergency Committee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Kazakhstan

The regions of Akmola, Karagandy, Pavlodar and East Kazakhstan have since declared a state of emergency.

The Emergency Committee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Kazakhstan report that 35 people had to be rescued and 14,790 people have been evacuated in total. Around 2,000 of the evacuees were soon able to return to their homes.

Karagandy region is thought to be the worst affected area after local rivers, including the River Nura overflowed. Floods across Karagandy have forced around 6,500 people from their homes. The Emergency Committee say that over 1,700 homes have been flooded in as many as 35 separate villages in the region.
Parts of Kyzylorda Oblast region in southern Kazakhstan suffered similar flooding in March 2014.

Daily Nation | Floodlist.

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