Yesterday we received an alarming letter from our friends and climate activists in Tbilisi, the capital of the Republic of Georgia in South Caucasus. Over the weekend, unexpected and extremely heavy rains caused a deadly flood in the city. The floods led to human loss and many homes were devastated in its path. The city Zoo was also destroyed in its entirety leaving lions, bears and a hippopotamus straying the streets of Tbilisi. While the authorities and ordinary people unite to organise search and relief efforts, Tsiala, Aleksandre and Levan share this update to highlight the  links between climate change and extreme weather events such as this.  


It was an ordinary Saturday night and people were attending concerts and clubs not expecting the whole city would be engulfed in chaos later that night. A sudden outpour of rain caused the mountain river Vere to overflow in a matter of hours causing unprecedented destruction in its path .

‘We couldn’t have imagined that this rain would trigger such violent and disastrous consequences, that it could kill someone, – writes Aleksandre Tkeshelashvili, a student from Tbilisi. Sadly, the recent death toll has risen to 12 and around 200 people have been left homeless seeking shelter in  different locations in Tbilisi’.

The animals from the city’s low-lying Zoo ran away in an attempt to escape the overflowing water and became a hazard for citizens as they ran through the city streets. The police couldn’t stop them unfortunately; later some were tranquillised and caught while others had to be killed.

‘I saw the police  kill several of the animals. I couldn’t even imagine [that such things could happen]’, – local climate and anti-coal activist Tsiala Abesadze shares in the email.

No official statistics have yet been published, but it is estimated hundreds of families have been left homeless, the losses are too dramatic and Tbilisi won’t forget this night for a long time. The damage is said to be in the estimates of USD$10 mln.

The tragedy left no one indifferent. Many have gathered to provide on the ground help and distribute first aid and food. ‘When I went to the hotel, I saw a lot of people carrying food and supplies to the families and it was a great feeling of solidarity and kindness’, says Aleksandre.

Still, external help is crucial to ensure timely help amidst the chaos. Environmental and youth activist Levan Pangani and his friends promote a local charity platform WeHelp that receives international donations for the flood victims, while others have started a campaign on the Indiegogo.

Yet little has been said about the cause of the disaster. According to experts, flooding and other extreme weather events are amongst the most likely consequences from global climate change.

‘People are negatively impacting the climate, and consequently the climate negatively impacts people in response’, says Tsiala a young organiser who works for the Geo-Eco Alliance of Georgia working to mobilise rural youth in a fight against coal mining in Georgia.

If we continue living without thinking and acting to mitigate climate change, climate catastrophes will lead to more and more losses.

‘Tbilisi and its citizens are witnessing first hand the effects of climate change. Lots of trees are being cut down and coal in being extracted and burnt every day worldwide with little care to what this means for the environment and the long term well-being of the planet. In some way we could say nature is retaliating on people and the case of these floods Georgians are the ones taking the hit.  This is a huge emotional and economical loss for our citizens. Please help us rebuild our city’, she urges.

‘We need people to understand the limitation of our environment. We all have to give climate change increasing priority, inform everyone and ensure people are involved. Now we, the people of Georgia and our city needs your support’, writes Aleksandre in an appeal to international community.

Help Georgians to overcome the disastrous aftermath by sharing this article and donating via either WeHelp or Indiegogo.

Thanks you for your solidarity!

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