The history of catastrophic floods in Cheremosh in 1927

cheremosh floodDuring the XX century in the rivers in Ukrainian Carpathians there were about ten large regional flooding. They happened during the warmer months. The biggest of floods on the river Cheremosh were on: 30-31 August 1927 and 8-12 June 1969. They have led to disastrous devastating consequences that is why old people of Hutsul area call them disasters or flood.

The maximum of particularly heavy rainfall occurs in July. The maximum height of the water level of the rivers in the mountainous areas often achieves from 2, up to 4 meters.

Ukrainian Carpathians by its geographic location and climatic conditions related to the zone of developed storm activity. As a result of the invasion here of windy wet masses of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, there are often intense rains in the warm season. The maximum of particularly heavy rainfall occurs in July. During one year there are over ten floods on Carpathian rivers. With intense rainstorms and torrential rains with a layer of 100 mm rainfall and more floods often become catastrophic. The maximum height of the water level of the rivers in the mountainous areas often achieves from 2, up to 4 meters. Significant speed of a flood water has great destructive power. Many people drown during flooding, buildings and roads, bridges get destroyed, crop gets killed, the prepared timber disappears.

Such historical floods in the Ukrainian Carpathians repeat every 10-15 years, they have significant flood coastal areas, causing extensive damage for nature, economy and population of mountainous region.

Catastrophic flooding in Carpathians

According to the data of the book of George Hulyuka “Zhab’ye” and evidence centenarian residents of Hutsul area: Venhryn Alexis, Maksym’yuk Vasil, Zelenskaya Evdokia, Koshelyuk Nastya and other old residents of this region, a catastrophic flood 30- 31 August, 1927 was as a result of a huge cloud crash and breakthrough of gate-cavil in the Upper Black of Cheremosh.

We want to introduce you to some information about the formidable force of the unique water element that overnight swept away everything in its path.

If to generalize received eyewitness statements, then this historical catastrophic flood was absolutely unexpected for all residents of the river of the Cheremos basin. While several previous days, there was great heat. In the morning, 30 August 1927, the sun warmed strongly, but it was very humidity, ” it was hard to breathe.” In the afternoon, the sky was closed by black clouds that stood over the Carpathians and did not move, and “before evening it was dark as night.”

Huge masses of rain water flowed directly on the slopes. All this happened so quickly and unexpectedly that employees cavil (hatyars) did not have time to pull the water that came.

When a catastrophic storm began, the bright lightnings overtook each other and illuminated the mountain, and thunders united in a continuous buzz and were so strong that the earth trembled. Constant flashes of lightning and thunder lasted for hours. A huge downpour began that lasted more than 4 hours. Huge masses of rain water flowed directly on the slopes. All this happened so quickly and unexpectedly that employees cavil (hatyars) did not have time to pull the water that came. On the night of 30 on 31 August accumulated water broke gates at Baltahuli, Lustuni, Shybene and quickly rushed down as a huge heap, sweeping away everything in its path.

Many old-timers of Hutsul area remembered phenomenal cases when at night wooden houses with its inhabitants glided on Cheremosh, they were condemned to death, but the windows shone light still!

On both shores of the Black and White Cheremosh, from the origins to the village Usteriky, catastrophic flooding killed about 50 houses. Just at the of downstream Black Cheremosh from Kryvorivnya to Usteriky, floods destroyed 19 houses. Many old-timers of Hutsul area remembered phenomenal cases when at night wooden houses with its inhabitants glided on Cheremosh, they were condemned to death, but the windows shone light still!

How people were rescuing from flood

About this horrible Hutsul Flood” and the “Noah ark of hutsuls” are still sadly remembered in villages of Verkhovyna. While escaping residents of flooded houses, got on attics, on rooftops, in trees gliding, but only a few people were saved. In particular, one villager of Kryvorivnya – Mykola Ivaniychuk swam on the roof of his house to the Benefit, and then grabbed the tree and so escaped from death. Another miracle was an escaped in Ust-Putila Verhniy Yaseniv resident, Mykola Vatuychak, but his entire family drowned.

The number of casualties is not known, but by many old-timers’ statements, then trees floated down the river in a vertical position and created the impression like a long strip of land covered in forest floats between the mountains. It’s difficult to even imagine the scale of the catastrophic floods.

According to various sources, the maximum height of water in the shaft of Cheremoshu reached 7 meters. Among all factors that influenced this disastrous flood we can name intensive drainage (size of rain showers in the center was over 300 mm) and the break down of the gate (Baltahul, Lustun, Shybene) used for alloy forest river Black Cheremosh.

According to various sources, the maximum height of water in the shaft of Cheremoshu reached 7 meters.

Both factors together led to catastrophic flooding that 30-31 August 1927 was for a maximum of registered in Cheremosh river. 10 cities and a large number of villages were flooded. It should be noted that the disaster happened when the Carpathian forest cover was much higher than now.

In the XIX century previous similar disaster was 1832 here. The second largest in the XX century catastrophic flooding considered to be 8-12 June 1969 at Cheremosh, which had more devastating effects.

How to protect against flooding in Carpathians

Floods in the Carpathians are determined by the location of mountain ranges against traffic of wet weight air masses and landscape features of river catchments. So, unfortunately, floods will always disturb this area.

Forestry, agriculture and water management in the Carpathian mountains have their own specifics and therefore it must be carried out considering possible catastrophic natural disasters. Crucial environmentally stabilizing factor here is foresting of mountain river basins. The water regulated and anti-flooding impact on Carpathian forests are indisputable scientific justification and it should be noted in the management of mountain forest and agriculture.

Modern forest cover of Ukrainian Carpathians decreased by almost half, now it is mostly young spruce forests (under 40 years). All this serves one of the greatest threats of possible future flooding. Population of basin Cheremos concerned about the fact that Ukrainian Carpathians has real prerequisites for catastrophic flooding, even with small showers.

During flooding the maximum height of the water level in the mountainous areas of the river Cheremosh is 4-to 6 meters, hence all future construction buildings, roads, especially water-engineering structures should be built with considering these settings. Rules and regulations of land allocation for housing and state-building areas in mountains Carpathians, have to consider the possible catastrophic floods.

According to research of famous Ukrainian scientists, doctors in biological sciences: S. Stoica  and F. Hamor, to prevent devastating effects of possible future catastrophic floods in the Carpathian mountain streams it is needed to build special flood reservoir, concrete and stone on the steep buildings of rivers, water-dam within living centers. On the mountain streams a system of water drops has to be create to reduce the speed of water flow. In addition, modern science requires that forest and agriculture in the basin of  Cheremosh must take into account role of mountain forests.

Catastrophic flooding on the river Cheremosh in 1927 led to huge landslides in the mountainous villages of the basin and flood in 1969 added new landslides. All major floods in Cheremosh were conducted by many mountain streams. Thus, each such flood leads to significant ecological-governmental, social and economic losses. A negative experience of ancient catastrophic floods in Transcarpathians convincingly shows that preventive measures for flooding require considerably less material and financial costs than the costs of the elimination of destructive consequences.

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