Tokayev Chairs Emergency Meeting on Floods, Thanks Rescuers, Volunteers

ASTANA — President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev chaired an emergency headquarters meeting on April 4 in the West Kazakhstan Region, one of the regions most affected by the massive floods, reported the Akorda press service.

The President met with a group of rescuers and volunteers. Photo credit: Akorda Click to see the map in full size. The map is designed by The Astana Times

Tokayev highlighted that several areas were heavily damaged by flooding and urged the meeting participants to collaborate in addressing the natural disaster.

“I surveyed the regions affected by floods and witnessed the scale of the disaster and its damage. People’s property and infrastructure were severely damaged by water. Roads and bridges have been washed away. Once the main issues are resolved, we shall begin reconstruction. I have instructed the government to prepare a plan for constructing new standard houses or reconstructing existing houses. I think we can manage these issues. The situation, as I already said, is challenging,” he stated.

The meeting was attended by Nariman Turegaliyev, West Kazakhstan Region Akim (governor), Deputy Prime Minister Kanat Bozumbayev, Minister of Emergency Situations Shyngys Arinov, Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Nurzhan Nurzhigitov and Danara Alimbayeva, General Director of Kazhydromet, the national hydrometeorological service.

Preventive measures

The President noted that forecast estimates for the region are pessimistic, and people need to prepare for a worsening flood situation.

“We all understand that this is a natural phenomenon. The soil was moistened as a result of heavy snowmelt and deep freezing of the ground with the formation of an ice crust. Subsequently, there was warming and precipitation, which led to snowmelt. Unfortunately, this year all these factors combined. We need to learn from this. Annual preparation for the flood period should begin in the summer-autumn period and include three areas of work,” said Tokayev, emphasizing the importance of forecasting and analytical measures.

According to Tokayev, the hydrometeorological service needs to carefully analyze forecast data and formulate scenarios for the upcoming flood season. 

He emphasized the importance of carrying out organizational, preventive, engineering, technical, and operational measures to prevent and mitigate the adverse impact of floods.

“The problem in our country now is the shortage of personnel in the relevant fields. (…) We need to urgently train hydraulic engineers, irrigators, and other water specialists,” Tokayev added.

Relevant instructions

The President instructed the government, profile agencies and regional governors to ensure the prompt construction of new housing and the restoration of houses in need of repair and quickly restore communal and social infrastructure.

He also tasked them to control the pricing of socially significant food products and essential goods in regions affected by floods. Tokayev emphasized the priority of preventive flood control measures.

“In the spring, snow removal, loosening and crushing of ice in dangerous sections of rivers, formation of meltwater runoff, and other necessary measures should be carried out in advance. In the summer-autumn period, we shall ensure the timely cleaning, dredging, and straightening of river beds, increasing the capacity of existing culverts and building new structures under roads and railways. Protective structures and drainage canals should also be erected,” said the President.

He also highlighted the importance of building reservoirs to regulate rivers with large volumes of water, making it possible to maintain the water supply necessary for farms in spring and summer.

Tokayev outlined the need to develop a unified algorithm for responding to emergency situations. This document should outline the tasks and actions of all competent authorities, from the declaration of a state of emergency to compensation for damage and property restoration.

Meeting with rescuers and volunteers

The President also met with a group of rescuers, comprising employees of the internal affairs bodies, the emergency situations department, the National Guard, and volunteers who participated in the efforts to address the aftermath of floods.

During the meeting, Tokayev expressed gratitude to all the citizens involved in combating the disaster.

“We will cope with this situation. Rescuers, police officers, and volunteers working here will receive well-deserved awards. I will ensure this is taken care of,” Tokayev said.

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