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"Action by Churches Together" mission:  Aid to victims of flood in the Krasnodar Region (2012)

Aid to victims of the catastrophic flood in the Krasnodar Region

The program for emergency aid to the most affected by the flood, which hit the Krymsk District of the Krasnodar Region on July 6-7, 2012, was organized under the auspices of the Moscow Patriarchate, Department for External Church Relations with the support of the Action by Church Together, an international Christian Alliance, and was carried out by Russia Round Table.

It became a continuation of the long-standing cooperation between organizations for aid to victims of various emergency situations in the North Caucasus and other regions both inside and outside Russia. The Round Table's Newsletter has regularly reported to its readers about this work.

In August 2012, the program beneficiaries included 1.095 people in the city of Krymsk and the Nizhnebakanka village, the worst affected areas. They were given individual hygienic kits and sanitary packages for children and women as well as antiseptics. The lists of beneficiaries of the aid were prepared and its distribution was carried out in close cooperation with respective structures in the Russian Orthodox Church diocese of Yekaterinodar and Kuban.

According to official information, the floods affected over 30.000 people, 171 people died and some 13.000 houses were damaged. Even after the water has subsided, the streets were covered with a thick layer of dirty slush consisting of soil, dirt and silt brought by the flood. In some places this slush contained decaying carcasses of domestic animals, which have not been cleared away for quite some time. Disinfection was carried out in all the affected areas. The authorities compiled lists of victims who are to receive a compensation for the lost property and houses from the regional and federal public funds.

Below is a story about one of the families who have suffered from the flood. We believe it will help our readers to have a fuller view of what thousands of victims of this disaster have lived through.

The Russia Round Table's Newsletter will continue informing its readers about the work to give aid to victims of emergencies.

Irina Denisova lives in the Nizhnebakanka village in the Krymsk District of the Krasnodar Region. She came to the village in 1993 when she was 21 and when she left her home for the first time and for good. She had had no time to take with her either her belongings or identity papers as she fled from the Uzbek city of Termez near the Tajikistan border in fear of civil war and ethnic persecution. She came to the Krasnodar Region where she received the status of refugee and in 1997 was granted Russian citizenship together with a small house at the outskirts of the Nizhnebakanka village. She has lived there all these years together with her family, raising up four children and working as a postman.

In the evening of July 6, 2012, it was raining but nothing pointed to disaster. Irina, her daughter, 17, and her sun, 10, went to bed. The two elder children were away. Nobody noticed the coming water. The warning came from their dog who managed to break his tether and now banged his paws against the window glass, howling. When Irina and her children woke up from this noise, water had already flooded the house and rose to the level of beds.

There was no electricity. In iron darkness, still unaware of what was exactly happening, Irina began to collect documents. She remembered the ordeal of obtaining the status of refugee, a job and a roof she had had to go through in the past because she had no identity papers.

The family was saved by Irina's 10 year-old son Valentin who helped her out of her stupor by seizing her arm: 'Mom, I do not want to die!' Irina looked back and saw her boy standing in water up to his chin. They had to escape even without documents. The three of them struggled out through the window.

It was about one in the morning. They saw headlights in the distance and realized that if the headlights gave light the car must not have been flooded and the level of water was lower there. As a postman, Irina knew very well the whereabouts of each house and even tree in the village. This knowledge allowed her to swim catching hold of trees and fences and holding the children and to reach the elevation on which the car with headlights on stood. Its owner deliberately left them on to direct people to a safe spot.

Irina recalled that during the flood in 2002 this hill was not flooded and wanted to stay on it together with the children. The family was once again saved by 10 year-old Valentin. He pulled his mother and sister up towards the woods. At that moment, a second wave hit the village. Through the mantle of continued rain they saw in the lightning an avalanche of water, tree branches and rubbish approaching them. The water came so rapidly that they could escape it with difficulty running up the hill. They were barefoot, sharp stones and branches ripping into their feet making them bleed, but they desperately kept clambering up. They managed to reach a stone construction on the hill with high concrete stairs on which they stayed, watching the water beginning to subside. On these steps they were found by dawn.

They spent the following days, knocking about fellow-villagers whose houses survived and spent the nights at Irina's colleagues' places. Now Irina and her family have returned to their damp and partially collapsed house. They are cleaning it from silt and trying to restore their lost documents. Irina hopes that the authorities will officially find her house under threat of collapse. It will make it possible for them to receive a new housing as compensation which the Russian government has promised to give to those who lost their homes.

Under the DECR program of aid to victims of the flood in the Krasnodar Region, Irina and her children received hygienic kits and antiseptics.

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