SOCIETY
Three years from Tbilisi devastating flood - June 13 tragedy
13 June, 2018
June 13, 2015 is one of the most tragic dates in the recent history of Georgia. The Vere small river that crosses Vake and Saburtalo neighborhoods in Tbilisi and flows into river Mtkvari, flooded the city center. The devastating flood that struck the city claimed lives of more than 20 people. The flood swept away the animal cages leaving some of them on loose in the streets, while killing rest of them.

It was not the first time the Vere River
flooded the city. The city witnessed the same natural disaster in the following years 1960, 1963, 1972, and 1995. 3 years after the tragedy, Georgian Journal remembers the story and brings highlights of those days.
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Flooding and landslide happen very rarely in Tbilisi

On June 13, 2015, after hours of heavy rainfall, a landslide occurred above the village of Akhaldaba, about 20 km southwest of Tbilisi. The landslide, carrying 1 million m3 of land, mud, and trees, moved down in Tbilisi and dammed up the Vere river at two points, first at a 10m wide channel at Tamarashvili Street and then at a channel under Heroes' Square, a major traffic hub, connected with Tamarashvili Street through the Vere Valley Highway. Tbilisi zoo Mziuri Park and Heroes’ Square located in the vicinity of the river were flooded and subsequently damaged.
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Aerial view of former Tbilisi Zoo

The tragedy left Tbilisi in a dire situation. More than 40 families were left homeless and 22,000 people were left without electricity. The Georgian government reported a preliminary estimated flood damage cost from GEL 40 million to 100 million.
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Tbilisi residents went altogether to clean the streets. Photo courtesy: floodlist.com

But the story of June 13 is also a story of unity and courage. Ordinary citizens of Tbilisi left their homes and teamed up to help emergency workers to clean Heroes’ square, Tbilisi Zoo and nearby territories. The tragedy united hundreds of people around one goal - helping that in need and gaining back the city that was devastated by the severe flood.
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View of destroyed Tbilisi Zoo. Photo courtesy: abc.net.au

After several days since the flooding, Georgia was on headlines of the world media outlets. As far as Tbilisi Zoo was destroyed and animals were set free, photos of a different animals walking in the streets circulated in the internet and world’s newspapers. There was a hippopotamus, walking on Heroes’ Square and nearby streets, the most peaceful one that left the zoo. Unfortunately, a white tiger took life of one man and was subsequently killed by emergency workers at the spot.
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Flow of water destroyed several companies located nearby the Vere River. Photo courtesy: floodlist.com

There were funny stories as well. For example, an African penguin was found at the Red Bridge border crossing with Azerbaijan. Apparently it swam nearly 60 kilometers in the river Mtkvari from Tbilisi before reaching the borderline.
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Emergency workers clean the territory from dead animals. Photo courtesy: theguardian.com

As the government had promised, the Tbilisi Zoo was moved from current place to Tbilisi Sea area. Here we present the images depicting the great flood and its consequences.
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Flooding took life of more than 20 people. Photo courtesy: wikimedia.org

First photo courtesy: theguardian.com

Related stories:

Tbilisi Zoo’s hippo - The main star of the foreign press

This Time, There Was No Ark Waiting – The Sad Fate of Tbilisi Zoo

“I am proud of you” – Sandwiches with motivating messages for volunteer workers

Tbilisi is one! – The city becomes united in the days of hardship
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