The flooding of Kalaē

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The flooding of Kalaē usually refers to the large flooding disaster in 2008 that occurred in Kojo's coastal region of Pacchipyan-iki. So far, it was the deathliest natural disaster in Kojo in the 21st Century.

Course of events

map of the region, flooded area in the west

The river Kime experienced a serious case of high water in the 2nd week of May 2008. On Tuesday morning, May 13th, a small section of embankment along the southern Kime bank gave way, properly due to unnoticed washout. Masses of water flooded through the opening, widening the gap with immense speed. The flooding made its way south-eastwards, rolling over farming land and small settlements. After 6 hours the first western suburbs of Kalaē experienced flooding, only hours after being warned by emergency troops. After 12 hours the flooded areas reached their largest extend, as water was flowing out onto the ocean just as fast as new flooding rushed in from the broken dam.

It took several days until after the high water receded that the embankment could be refurbished and the flooding be stopped.

Total damage

Due to the sudden and unexpected nature of the flooding, no evacuation measures had been taken in the affected areas prior to flooding. 2 small villages were destroyed completely; Galmyero, formerly 2,600 inhabitants, and Mazúkālsul further south, at 4,500 inhabitants. The western part of Kalaē that was washed away used to be inhabited by around 6800 people. The flooded area exceeded 100 km², and around 70 km² are still wet land today. The official death toll is 2,268.

Lasting effects

The immense quantity and velocity of the water moving across the flat and already saturated landscape left deep scars. In some areas the upper layers of soil were completely washed away, and a new river bed formed. The coastline was fragmented and a new delta formed, reaching into the ocean as far as 1 km. It was seriously considered, in early stages of repair, to have the river's course moved permanently to the new path it had dug itself, as this would have reduced future flooding risks for cities downstream, most notably the large harbour city Jaka. Several arguments were brought up against this: First, it would have been very difficult to impossible to secure the new river bed appropriately. Second, despite the reduced flooding risks the harbour city of Jaka was worried about the long term implications this change would have on its role as an overseas and inland port. And third, the ecological consequences on the vast Kime delta would have been incalculable, including the question what the new outflow would have done to the western part of the coast where it would have been moved to.

Today, The river's former flowing path has been restored; a large part of the flooded area (70 km²) is designated to be left untouched in the mid-term. Ponding was so intense that a quick artificial siltation seems impractical. In cases of high water in the future, the area might be used to relieve stress from the river. Administrative borders were redrawn in 2010.

Three major road and one major railway link have been reestablished across the wet land.

The high death toll and economical damage have left a lasting impression on Kojolese flooding regulations and land use assignment along river beds.