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Saakashvili lays-out blueprint for storm recovery

By Ernest Petrosyan
Tuesday, August 7
The European Union will provide over Euro 118,000 to help the most vulnerable and seriously affected families by the devastating floods and hail in the Kakheti, Samtskhe-Javakheti and Mtskheta-Mtianeti regions of southern and eastern Georgia.

The aid will be channeled through the Georgian Red Cross Society which operates using the funding of the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) from the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). This funding will be used to provide mattresses, blankets, cooking utensils, hygiene kits and tarpaulins to the victims of the disaster.

Due to the freshly launched rehabilitation work, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili held a meting with the First Deputy Governor of the Kakheti region, Giorgi Sibashvili and the Head of the Khakheti-Adigeni Rehabilitation Coordination Office, Levan Bezhashvili, to discuss the related issues.

“In the beginning of September the distribution of compensation should be completed. People are now waiting for the vintage, and it must ensure that they receive the money. This process should not take long,” said Saakashvili.

“We also promised state university students to release them from their university fees. Approximately 900 students have already registered. By September 1, we will have a complete picture of the number of students that are supposed to be released from their academic fees. We can do it in public schools, while private schools will have to decide how to act. Personally, I recommend they provide a friendly look into the situation and condition of the victims,” stated Mikheil Saakashvili.

The president also drew attention to issues related to bank loans. “Currently, negotiations are underway with the National Bank; we have warned all banks and specified the list of those who have taken an agro loan. As for the issue of electricity supply, in this regard, the infrastructure has almost completely recovered and is still going to work on this issue,” said Saakashvili.

According to Bezhashvili, about 85% of the roofs have been re-covered. “The most complicated problem of the ongoing rehabilitation work is the old tiled roofs. We created a commission, which has estimated about 810 such houses in Gurjaani and Telavi. We divided into three categories in accordance of the damage level and construction brigades have started construction work,” said Bezhashvili

As Saakashvili noted, the newly build infrastructure must be much better and more sustainable to natural disasters then the previous infrastructure. Telavi would be better. “Much should be done, we should build roads and use reinforced technology that can withstand such disasters,” said Saakashvili.

The harvest must be conducted in an exemplary way. We hope that in comparison to the previous years, the price for grapes will significantly increase. The wine sales rates on the world markets have increased significantly. I think we will have no problem selling Georgian wine this year. We not only need to restore the old vineyards, but also help people to build many new ones. New technology must be introduced, especially in the wine-making areas, as well as the introduction of new varieties of fruit. We also need to help the village strengthen economic exchanges. This is a very unpleasant situation,” stated Mikheil Saakashvili.

More than 20,000 families suffered losses and damage to their property. Roads, communication lines and water supplies were disrupted. The disaster essentially devastated livestock and caused the destruction of crops. According to the local people, this is the worst natural disaster in living memory.