EghtesadOnline: Unprecedented rainfall in the past three weeks across the country has raised water levels in dams and 70% of the dams are now full, the energy minister said.
“The 2017-18 water year was the driest in the past half century. But since the beginning of the new water year (last September) to date, precipitation has been 50% over and above the annual average registered over the past 50 years,” the Energy Ministry news website Paven quoted Reza Ardakanian as saying.
According to local news outlets, Iran registered 265 millimeters of rainfall in six months.
“Precipitation rose 187% compared to the same period last year,” Financial Tribune quoted Ardakanian as saying.
Dams across Iran can hold a maximum of 50 billion cubic meters of water. Precipitation starting from last September raised the water in dams to over 35 bcm. The volume last year was 12 bcm.
Although the higher precipitation will curb the water tension Iran has been suffering from for more than a decade, it has already killed more than 70 people and inflicted colossal human and material damage in several towns and villages, especially in the western and northern regions.
Heavy rainfall began three weeks ago, overflowing rivers, washing away bridges, inundating houses and destroying infrastructure. Commentators have been quoted as saying that the heavy downpours and the calamity it has inflicted is unprecedented over six decades.
Tens of thousands of people have been displaced and many are in dire need of food, water, tents and blankets.
The tragedy started in the northern provinces including Golestan on March 19. While the nation was shocked by the casualties and the scale and scope of the destruction, another round of floods hit March 25 in the western and southwestern provinces, mainly in Lorestan and Khuzestan.
While almost all parts of the country have reported higher precipitation compared to last year, the difference in the amount of downpours is huge in some cases.
For example, precipitation in Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province in the west shot up 316%, Khuzestan 286% and Lorestan 281%.
Flooding cut off gas, electricity and water supply in many regions and damage to the gas and power networks and water distribution systems has been estimated at over $20 million.
According to authorities food-hit in Lorestan, Khuzestan, Golestan, and Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari, access to potable water, electricity and gas has been restored in most of the affected areas.
More rainfall has been forecast for many areas in the coming week. With the possibility of Dez and Karkheh dams overflowing, authorities have ordered the evacuation of more than 70 villages in the oil province of Khuzestan, where two major dams are full and more rainfall could result in overflows and create more havoc.
Evacuations are also underway in other provinces. The 18,000 residents of Dorood in Lorestan Province and 10,000 people living in nearby villages are being evacuated. More flooding is forecast in other towns and cities in the province where an emergency was declared earlier in the week.
All rivers in Lorestan have burst their banks unleashing heavy flooding. The Marook Dam is swamped by excess water.
Morteza Salimi, the head of Relief and Rescue Organization of the Iranian Red Crescent Society, said humanitarian aid has been delivered to 293 cities and villages in the flood-hit regions.
Foreign countries and international bodies are also helping. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies released $500,000 in grants to 3,000 Iranian families who lost homes and livelihoods in the floods, Reuters reported.
The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund in a message said aid has been sent to the flood-stricken people.
Germany too has provided humanitarian assistance to the flood victims.
The Swiss Foreign Ministry’s Office for Development and Cooperation said Thursday two water purifiers will arrive in Iran on Saturday and will be delivered to the Iranian Red Crescent Society. Each water purifier has the capacity to purify water for 5,000 people.