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10 years since the most disastrous floods in the Czech Republic

photo: Písek (czechtourism.com)

In August 2012, the Czech Republic commemorates one of the saddest events in its history. It was exactly ten years ago that a large part of the country, including the capital city of Prague, was struck by a large flood. Water took people’s lives and caused damage totalling more than a hundred-billion crowns.

The floods in 2002 had 17 casualties. Water flooded 40% of the country, 10 regions and 753 municipalities. Fifty thousand people were evacuated from their homes, and 60 thousand households were left without electricity for several days. The reach of the Vltava River culminated on 14 August 2002, when it climbed up to 785 cm, and the flow rate grew up to 5,300 m³/s (the average flow rate in Prague is approximately 148 m³/s). One eighth of the city was flooded. Praguers were most astonished by the fact that water even penetrated into the metro, which finally began operating again in March 2003.

The most affected city quarters of Prague were Lesser Town (Map), where many of the most valuable Prague historical monuments are located, Holešovice (Map), Karlín (Map), Zbraslav (Map), amongst many others. Karlín – originally a dusty quarter full of semi-derelict houses – was transformed into a new attractive part of the city after the floods. Many modern buildings were constructed and a completely new way of life emerged.

The renowned Prague Zoological Garden was almost completely destroyed. Today, it is wholly reconstructed and the floods are only evident from the altimeters that show what height the water reached in 2002. There are similar marks showing the height of the water in August 2002 on many houses all over the Czech Republic. You can look at photographs taken at the flooded Prague ZOO here.

However, the floods were devastating for many other cities in the CR, some of which ended up completely under water. In northern Bohemia, a large flood lake was created and swept across 30 municipalities including Terezín (Map). In southern Bohemia, water literally cut off Český Krumlov (Map) from the rest of the world and other affected cities including České Budějovice (Map), Strakonice (Map) and Písek (Map), where there was a real danger that the Otava River might pull down the oldest stone bridge in central Europe.

Despite this tragedy, the citizens of the CR faced the floods in a manner characteristic for them and immediately began helping one another. The great work conducted by the army was backed up by volunteer fire-fighters and students, who also worked as hard as they could. After the water returned to the riverbeds, the country was swept by a large wave of solidarity, when tens of millions crowns were collected in special fund-raising campaigns, which provided considerable help.

Although the aftermath of the floods was catastrophic, the affected places are now reconstructed and many of them are in an even better state than they were before the floods came. You can look at photographs, maps and videos showing the disaster the water caused in 2002 and how the affected places looked five years later here. You will find a photo report from the floods here.


Author: Andrea Kábelová
Added: 02.08.2012

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