‘We’re like Noah’s ark’ says animal shelter in flooded Russian city

Sunday, Apr 14, 2024

MOSCOW:The roaring sound of water pumps filled the deserted streets of the flood-stricken Russian city of Orenburg on Friday as people heeded official warnings to escape.

The city of 550,000, about 1,200 km (750 miles) east of Moscow, is grappling with a historic deluge after Europe’s third-longest river, the Ural, burst its banks. Swiftly melting snow has already forced more than 120,000 people to evacuate in Russia’s Ural Mountains, Siberia and Kazakhstan.

It is the worst flooding seen in the areas in nearly a century. The Ural River, which cuts through Orenburg, rose to 11.43 metres (37.5 ft) on Friday, up from 10.87 metres (35.5 ft) a day earlier. Mayor Sergei Salmin called the situation “critical”.

Drone footage showed much of the city has turned into a vast lake, dotted with the roofs of houses - at least 12,000 of which have been flooded - peeking up above the brown water.

For many in low-lying homes, little can be done to save their belongings.

“Everything flooded, everything’s lost, everything,” said Dmitry Dragoshantsev as he waded through the waist-high water that had ruined his home in Viktoriya, a hamlet just outside Orenburg.

He heaved his washing machine up his basement stairs with the help of a neighbour, trying to save what he could.