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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

FSB Views Damage Left by Record Rain

MTPedestrians walking down Tverskaya Ulitsa during a light rain shower on Thursday morning. A 30-year record of 60 millimeters of rain fell a day earlier, snarling traffic and public transportation, and more heavy rains are forecast for the upcoming days.
While the Federal Security Service cannot extend its influence to the skies to block the record rainfall that has inundated Moscow over the few days, its agents were prepared to go underground Thursday to combat the flooding.

FSB experts were to begin an inspection Thursday of the city's subterranean water routes and sewage systems to improve drainage in districts where rain has left residents wading knee-deep in water, said Natural Resources Ministry officials, who met with FSB and Prosecutor General's Office representatives Wednesday to discuss ways to address the damage.

Moscow saw its heaviest rainfall in 30 years early Wednesday morning, with more than 60 millimeters of precipitation falling on parts of Moscow, said Dmitry Kiktyov, deputy head of the federal weather agency.

The rainfall was nearly as much as the capital gets over the entire month of August.

The previous record was set on Aug. 9, 1973, when an average of 66 millimeters of precipitation fell over 24 hours, Kiktyov said.

Cars stalled after plunging into puddles. Trams, buses and trolleybuses ground to a halt. Metro trains stopped for 50 minutes during the morning rush hour on the light-blue Filyovskaya metro line after floodwaters caused a landslide over the tracks on an open-air leg of the line -- an unprecedented occurrence for the metro.

"The streams from the downpour carried the soil [over the tracks], and it was physically impossible for the trains to move," metro spokeswoman Svetlana Tsaryova said. "This kind of thing had never happened to us before."

The rain turned streets around Moscow into raging streams, with water gushing down from higher areas to deluge lower roads. Trams stopped when water levels rose above 100 millimeters, and trolleybuses went out of action when the levels exceeded 150 millimeters, said a spokesman for the city's public transportation service, Pyotr Sidorov.

"The main traffic stoppage happened during the morning rush hour," Sidorov said. "From about 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., transportation stood still."

On Prospekt Mira trolleybus traffic stopped for at least seven hours after water levels in the nearby Yauza River rose by 1.5 to 2 meters, flooding nearby streets, Sidorov said. On Shosse Entuziastov, in eastern Moscow, all public transportation froze for nearly four hours, he said.

"In the areas that got flooded, trolleybuses and trams stopped, cars stalled, and then other transport just could not get through," he said.

The Moscow drainage system cannot handle more than 50 millimeters of rain per day -- anything above that and the streets get flooded, said officials from the municipal water drainage service.

The FSB's scrutiny of the drainage system Thursday was apparently aimed at getting to the root of the problem. The results of the inspection were not immediately known, and officials from the security service refused to comment. The prosecutor's office could not be reached for comment.

After a pause Wednesday afternoon, heavy rainfall resumed in the evening and continued on and off into late Thursday morning, hampering efforts to restore order.

The first round of the Russian Open golf tournament was delayed for two hours because of the rain Thursday.

Moscow is notorious for its frigid winters and short summers that inevitably are too hot or too cold, extremely rainy or unbearably dry. But despite all the grumbling about soaked clothes and delays in getting to work, Moscow residents this time around have something that many sweltering Western Europeans are only wishing for.

Amid a rare heat wave that has engulfed much of Europe, at least 3,000 people have died of heat-related causes in France alone in recent weeks.

Pope John Paul II this week urged believers to pray for rain to bring an end to the drought and heat.

At least some Muscovites might care to join in. An umbrella vendor on the street outside the Vodny Stadion metro station said Thursday that he hoped the downpour -- or at least a drizzle -- would continue.

"The rain was good," said the man, who refused to give his name. "We sold about a dozen umbrellas yesterday, and we didn't sell a single one today."

His hopes may come true: Kiktyov, the deputy chief of the weather agency, said Thursday that after a forecast two-day lull on Friday and Saturday, heavy rains are likely to resume.