It's a vain bid in these already filthy waters, but something that has to be done to keep body and soul together. These people are trying to get back to normal life after flash flooding - as a result of days of torrential rain - devastated their homes. 171 people are said to have died in this area of Russia: Krymsk in Krasnodar, officials saying a further 24,000 have been affected. The waters are receding now, but on Saturday night those who survived have spoken of how a seven-foot high wave of water crashed down upon them, while many of them slept . Many people are blaming the authorities for not warning them of the release of reservoir waters in nearby mountains to relieve pressure - and which subsequently submerged their homes.

At government offices close to the Kremlin, flags are at half-mast as a mark of respect for those who died in the flooding and also for the deaths of 14 Russian pilgrims in a coach crash in the Ukraine at the weekend. The country has declared an official day of mourning and today people in Moscow speculated about whether the authorities gave people enough warning about opening those reservoir flood gates:

"We used to have a more or less good civil defence service in the past, regardless of how we laughed at it - there was a warning service and some sorts of drills were carried out from time to time, but now nothing is left of it at all. And such things also happen perhaps because we are so indifferent (to safety rules) and we more and more hope just for luck, but luck betrays us more and more."

"I think that they (authorities) shouldn't interfere in the nature, but they are obliged to help people. And perhaps the settlements should be built somewhere far from rivers, and they shouldn't interfere (in nature). That's my personal opinion."

Meanwhile there are reports that in Krymsk - as people desperately tried to pump water from their drenched homes - postmen were going from house to house handing out 10,000 roubles (that's around £195) by way of compensation, with apparently a promise of more to come. Small comfort to those having to start again.