By Emil Danielyan
The government moved on Thursday to minimize damage from massive spring floods anticipated as a result of unusually heavy snowfalls that have hit Armenia this winter.
A government statement said ministers approved 113 million drams ($250,000) for urgent efforts to prevent the country’s swelling rivers from overflowing their banks and wreaking havoc on agriculture and public infrastructure. The money will be used by local governments for clearing river beds and bolstering defenses along their banks. Provincial governors were also instructed to form special task forces to coordinate precautionary measures.
The flood alert follows record amounts of snow that blanketed Armenia late last month, blocking major highways and even streets in Yerevan where it piled up to about 60 centimeters. The approaching spring already makes it thaw, heightening the risk of flooding in some parts of the country. They were already hit hard by Armenia’s worst floods in decades triggered by a sudden rise in air temperatures two years ago.
The floodwaters washed away dozens of village houses and destroyed summer wheat crops on at least 2,500 hectares of land. The government provided about $1 million in relief aid to flood victims at the time. But the sum was nowhere near enough to eliminate consequences of the calamity, leading the authorities in Yerevan to ask for external assistance.