2010 has been a tough year for Russia. See here, here and here. 2010 has also been tough for Fedor. See here, here and here. Sadly this summer, Mother Nature decided to pile on. Below, Fedor describes what it’s been like to live through the heat and wildfires surrounding Moscow.
Hey guys! While you were out enjoying the #rmnbparty a few weeks ago, I was sweating profusely in front of my PC in Moscow. Suffice to say, it’s been sweltering in my home city and it’s driving people crazy. For example on Twitter, some of the “trending topics” in Central Russia are heat and wildfire. Why all the hubbub? This Boston Globe report summarizes it well:
Last month, Russia endured the hottest July ever recorded since records began 130 years ago. The intense heat and drought affecting central Russia has been drying out trees and peat marshes, which have been catching fire recently, burning forests, fields and houses across a massive region. Some 500 new fires have been reported in the last 24 hours alone, and a mobilization of hundreds of thousands of emergency workers is underway to combat them. President Dmitry Medvedev has now declared a state of emergency in seven regions. To date, over 1,500 homes have been destroyed and 40 lives have been lost as wildfires continue across over 300,000 acres.
Little Relief for Those Suffering
The heat has been terrible. In Moscow, the temperature has been over 35°C (95°F) for two months. Lately, I’ve been routinely waking up around 8 AM because it’s too hot and smoggy. I’m forced awake early even if I go to bed at 4am. Every morning, the smoke visibly creeps into my house. On bad days, it doesn’t go away at night. The smell is terrible, and a lot of people have been using gauze bandages over their mouths when going outside. However, I don’t wear them. As one doctor said, “They don’t help. The only and the best salvation is to go out to the safe regions [of the country]”. I definitely would like to go back to Zelenogradsk, where I was on vacation for the whole month of July. It’s much colder there, and there are no wildfires.
To make things worse, a lot of Russians live in block (or panel) buildings, which get hot easily and are impossible to get cold. Thankfully, I live in a brick house which keeps things slightly more insulated. Because of the condition of homes here, the heat has instigated a big jump in prices of air conditioning systems and fans. I’ve heard that fans which once cost $7 in winter are now costing $100. Like most other Russians, I have no A/C in my house, but I do have 3 fans. Unfortunately, one of them is from Soviet Russia and does not work too well. [Ed. note: In Soviet Russia, fan turns you on!] Decades ago, this fan was a famous brand called “Veterok,” which means “little wind”. It provides little relief, which makes sleep my only escape.
Wildfires Follow Extreme Heat
The wildfires have been more deadly than the heat. The AP reports that thousands of homes have burnt to the ground. To the right is a map of all the reported wildfires in Central, Western and Southern Russia, and Ukraine:
Though others are posting and writing about their own experiences in this natural disaster, the devastation is astounding for everyone here. The photos and videos say what I can’t describe of the wildfires and smoke. Also, watch these videos by the English-speaking Russian channel – Russia Today:
Images of the Devastation
At Least Ovi’s Still In Good Spirits!
Even heat and wildfires cannot stop AO from dancing! Here Ovi drives downtown where if you look out his windows, you can see how depressingly grey it looks outside right now.
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