The swollen Little Zab River has broken its banks after weeks of heavy rains and overspill from the Dukan Dam reservoir. Photo: Rudaw
DUKAN, Kurdistan Region – High water from heavy rains and overspill from Dukan Dam has swept away tourism infrastructure along the Little Zab River. Further downstream, hundreds of people have been evacuated and aid agencies report problems accessing flooded areas.
Water in the Dukan Dam reservoir reached the bell-mouth spillway this week, for just the second time since the dam was constructed in 1959. Riverside streets are flooded and the town of Dukan has told people to avoid the area.
“We have instructed people not to use the road until the water level decreases. The manager of the dam in coordination with Baghdad and Erbil is releasing the dam's water. It’s them giving the orders and we are here on full alert,” Mayor Sirwan Sarhad said.
The high waters have also brought snakes.
A man pulls a snake out of the Little Zab River. Photo: Rudaw
Downstream, on the banks of the Little Zab in Taqtaq and Qaranaw, owners of tourism infrastructure are watching with dismay and frustration as their facilities are flooded.
“Our gazebos were just 30 to 35 metres away from the river. The playground was 150 metres from the river. The damage is estimated to be around $50,000 to $60,000,” said Haji Dara, the owner of a tourism site in Qaranaw.
In Taqtaq, they “have been suffering from the flooding for two weeks now, not sleeping,” said Adnan Shukur, who owns a tourism site in the town. He questioned why the water level was not managed sooner at the dam. “Why didn’t they release the water sooner? They are doing it now at the same time as the heavy rains.”
Taqtaq town has shored up its flood defences, using whatever material they can to raise the levee.
“In some places we have put giant rocks and other materials to remove threats on two neighborhoods and the city center,” said Mayor Hakim Omer Ahmed.
Downstream in Iraq, hundreds of families have been displaced
by the flooding. Towns and villages along the Tigris River, which the Little Zab flows into, are the worst affected.
The United Nations office for humanitarian affairs (OCHA) reported
problems accessing some areas because bridges are out of commission. Security forces demanding “additional documentation” from aid agencies has also hampered their efforts.
Hundreds of families have been displaced from their homes because of flooding, including al-Msahaq in Saladin province, pictured on April 6, 2019. Photo: OCHA
In the south, border officials have closed the border between Iraq and Iran because of flooding, Iraqi state TV reported.
At least 70 people have died in floods across Iran. The Iranian Red Crescent Society says it has delivered
aid to more than 257,000 people via helicopter, boat, and truck.
With reporting by Hardi Mohammed