Many houses and barns were destroyed and animals died in Van’s (Wan’s) Elbak, Ebex, Qelqelî and Payîzawa districts in the eastern province of Turkey due to the heavy rains that turned into floods over the past two weeks.
However, these floods and the devastation they caused did not create the type of public attention in Turkey that floods in Turkish populated districts of the country have caused. Villagers in the flood affected districts expressed anger at the way they had been abandoned. Analysts have pointed to the narrow construction of the canals in neighbourhoods and the lack of proper maintenance and upkeep of the canals as one of the major factors why flooding caused such great damage in the region. Several villagers have demanded that the government implement appropriate measures to prevent further flooding in Van.
Speaking to Medya Haber, flood affected villagers expressed the view that the damage would be more severe if it did not happen during the day time. Halis Kiseoglu noted: “If it happened during the night, many people would have died. If it had happened in the dark, many people would not have survived.” His family lost almost everything due to the flooding.
“The flood damage has been substantive: My house was destroyed, my shop was destroyed,
my garage was destroyed, my barn was destroyed. The things that we burn in winter for heat, our cheese, all gone, nothing is left,” he said.
Another villager, Şafak Kişeoğlu, also criticized the officials. “We tell them our problems, but they do not understand, they just look at our faces and then leave,” she said.
Esra Hocaoğlu agreed with her and described the attitude of the officials: “They come, make controls and say: ‘Your homes are secure.’ But we know they are not secure: we are scared, but we have no other choice, we have no other option, so we continue living in our houses.”
Engineers have drawn attention to the possible risks they face. Fırat Durmaz, president of the Van Chamber of Civil Engineers, said that urgent measures should be taken to prevent a repeat of a similar disaster.
“However, there is one thing that is not visible. If there is another flood, a greater disaster may occur. For this reason, it is a necessity to declare our districts as ‘disaster areas’ and to take all necessary precautionary measures.The residential areas of the villages in the plains where the flooding occurred need to be relocated.”
Since the floods began, both the villagers and specialists in the field have appealed to the government to declare the region as a ‘disaster area,’ but their demands have not been met.