HOMEPAGE

Life&Work

 

Czechs mark 20 years since worst floods in human memory

 
photo:  (radio.cz)
 

The month of July, 1997 brought devastating floods to Central Europe. The flooding began in the Czech Republic, then spread to Poland and Germany taking the lives of close to 100 people, destroying towns and infrastructure and leaving thousands of people displaced.

 

The worst floods of the 20th century, also referred to as the Millennium floods, came at the start of July after days of torrential rain. Flooding began on July 5 in the Czech Republic hitting predominantly the eastern parts of the country where rapid flash floods drove water levels up by several meters in half a day. In the course of the next ten days a third of the country was affected, with 536 villages flooded and 80,000 people evacuated. 50 people lost their lives and thousands were left homeless. Over 2,000 homes were destroyed, 48 bridges were damaged and 500 km of roads were underwater. The village of Troubky, which became a symbol of the floods lost nine of its inhabitants and was completely destroyed. Jana Netopilova says the events of the terrible day will remain forever fresh in her mind.

“We waded through the debris of our flooded home to the lifeboat. My husband was clutching our eleven-day-old baby girl in his arms and I was holding our four-year-old daughter. We were swept to safety at the eleventh hour. When we were up in the helicopter I looked down to see our house engulfed in the murky water – just tops of trees, debris and the raging water that was all that was left.”

Today many of the 150 houses that were destroyed have been reconstructed. Other sites remain empty – a reminder of the worst natural disaster in the history of the village. And the fear of flooding is still strong. Since then Troubky has been flooded twice, though with lesser damages and no loss of life. However the location of the village spells possible future problems. Plans for an anti-flood barrier – a rampart of sorts that would hold back the flood water hit the rocks after the owners of the private property where it was to stand refused to give permission. The town went ahead with it anyway preferring to pay a fine or compensation rather than remain unprotected.

Since 1997 – and also in view of the devastating floods in 2002- the government has spent millions of crowns on flood prevention around the country, erecting barriers and broadening river basins where needed. In Prague mobile barriers would be put up along the Vltava embankment in the high risk areas and water-proof doors have been installed in the Prague Metro to protect those metro stations that were flooded in the past. However work on anti-flood measures is far from complete and environment expert Ivo Machar says the effort does not go far enough since the authorities have stopped short of preventing people from building houses in high-risk areas.

“There is no flood map on the grounds of which people would be banned from building houses in the extreme-danger zones. Or else there are efforts to map these areas but people go ahead and settle there anyway.”

Machar and others warn that given the climate changes we have witnessed in recent years and the more frequent flooding this could present a serious problem in the years to come.

 
 
Author: Český rozhlas Radio Praha
 
Added: 11.07.2017
 
 
 

Related articles

 
Life&Work
 
 

Why are over half of Czech bachelor...

Many businesses and economists complain that the number of graduates in the Czech labour force is...

 
 
Life&Work
 
 

On a little square near Kampa, a...

This week, visitors to Prague’s Na Kampě street at the foot of the Charles Bridge have the chance to...

 
 
Life&Work
 
 

For Harley-Davidson enthusiasts, a...

Harley-Davidson celebrated its 115th anniversary last weekend, bringing motorcycle enthusiasts to Prague...

 
 
Life&Work
 
 

Czechs increasingly satisfied with...

Czechs are said to be a grumpy lot, but in reality they are increasingly satisfied with life. According...

 
Most favourite

History of Czech fine art

What happened in the realm of fine art at the very beginning of the Czech…

Climate

The Czech Republic is a landlocked country located in moderate geographical…

The most significant current discoveries

During the last decade, Czech science has made many revolutionary discoveries…

Czech language

The Czech language belongs to the group of West Slavic languages. From another…