Jēkabpils confident about Spring-time flood defenses

Take note – story published 1 year ago

A month and a half after unprecendented winter floods, the city of Jēkabpils is now preparing for the expected annual Spring floods, reports Latvian Radio.

Having returned to normality after a situation which saw families evacuated and the threat of a major inundation, river embankments have been strengthened in the most critical places. Currently only small fluctuations in the water level along the River Daugava are registered, but the Spring thaw may  test flood defenses once again.

Latvian Radio together with the chairman of the city council Raivis Ragainis (Green Party of Latvia) went through the most flood-affected area of ​​the city in the Bebru district. "You see, those apartment buildings were not [in the water] - they are higher, in this area - everything was in the water," pointed out the mayor.

In January, the biggest concern was the embankment, which threatened to collapse, and then a wave of water several meters high could potentially have rushed into the city. “And that was the biggest problem because it was life threatening. Here, you see, sandbags. We strengthened it," said Ragainis.

In preparation for spring, in the most critical places, the municipality has tried to restore the embankment for several hundred meters. "You see, we're getting ice here, and beyond that three-story house, everything is flat. We have already prepared this whole section to wait for the spring floods," said the city's mayor.

Currently, the embankment is no longer considered dangerous. However, thinking about the future, the municipality intends to start concreting later this year.

“Our request was 12.5 million euros to do the works we are planning. This year we can do about 50-60%. This means that six million should already be put into the dam this year, so that we are sufficiently well prepared for such problems as there were this year," said Ragainis.

The coalition of parties forming the government has supported the allocation of 2.4 million euros to Jēkabpils for the elimination of the consequences of the flood. These funds will be used to cover the costs of the work already done. Many things can be done only in the spring.

"Groundwater, which was forced back into the city on both sides, will have caused quite serious damage to the infrastructure related to water disposal - rainwater, sewage," said Ragainis.

Last week, the Jēkabpils District Council approved regulations on granting a one-time benefit in the event of a disaster, to which flood-affected households can also apply. The intended benefit amount is up to three and a half thousand euros.

"There are 450 households that could apply for this type of benefit at different levels. The commission will go, evaluate, evaluate the water level marks that were there, and then we will take a look," said the chairman of the council.

Flood victims can also apply to the municipality for social benefits in the amount of two minimum monthly salaries. About 80 people have already used this opportunity. "If a household has been lost - firewood, a boiler house or something like that," said the local government politician.

Locals that Latvian Radio spoke to said that despite the damage caused by the winter floods they were not overly concerned about the prospect of Spring floods.

"I have lived here all my life, the Daugava has never scared me. The water comes, the water goes," said one resident.

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