Heavy rainfall across the Central European region from June 22, 2009 to June 25, 2009 has caused severe flooding in several countries, including the Czech Republic, Austria, Poland, and Germany. The heavy rainfall is also reported to have prompted flood alerts for the Danube in the Slovak Republic and Hungary and has caused some flooding in Romania.
The eastern Czech Republic is reported to have been worst-affected by flood waters, where there has been extensive damage and 10 Czech citizens confirmed dead. According to reports, the fatalities occurred near the Czech borders with Poland and Slovakia, where six people were drowned in flood waters late on the evening of the June 24, 2009. Four more people died when flood waters prevented medical teams from reaching them.
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Hundreds of people have had to be evacuated across the region and there are reports of extensive damage to transport infrastructure, including a main railway line connecting the capital of the Czech Republic, Prague, with the eastern Czech Republic and Poland. Floods across the Czech Republic have closed many roads and railway lines and cut power supplies to towns. The Czech town of Novy Jicin (population c. 26 500), around 260 km (160 miles) east of Prague was reported to have declared a state of emergency.
It was reported that the Czech Republic’s security council and the government met on June 25, 2009 to assess the situation. The Czech Prime Minister, Jan Fischer, assured media that the situation was “under control.” He added that the rescue work was concluded on the morning of the June 25, 2009 and that 1,000 army troops had been mobilised to assist with the cleanup operation.
The Czech government has reportedly assigned around 54 million Czech Crowns (EUR2.1 million/ USD2.9 million) to the affected regions. The governor of one of the hardest-hit regions, Jaroslav Palas, said that the flood damages seen so far could run into the tens of millions of dollars.
Austria has also been badly affected by flooding as water levels of the river Danube rose during the week after reports of some of the heaviest rainfall seen in 50 years. The water level of the Danube had been expected to peak in Vienna on the June 25, 2009, as rainfall started to ease. In Vienna, it was reported that as from Thursday, the city’s famous Albertina museum would start to evacuate around 950,000 works of art from one of its underground storage facilities after leaks were detected.
Elsewhere in the country, reports said that thousands of fire-fighters and soldiers were struggling to control flood waters in northern, central and eastern Austria on June 24, 2009, after over two days of heavy rainfall. That day, the situation was reported as being critical in Lower Austria Province where some villages were temporarily cut off by road. Water flooded a number of buildings and streets in the town of Steyr in Upper Austria province, and a number of towns and hamlets in the provinces of Styria and Burgenland were also inundated. Local authorities in the southeastern province of Styria declared states of emergency amidst evacuations of people who found themselves inundated by one metre (3.3 feet) of water. On June 24, 2009, at least five rivers were reported to have overtopped their banks in Austria, and the Danube was also reported to have burst its banks in several places.
In Poland, reports said that a flood alert was declared after heavy rain that affected southern and north eastern parts of the country during the night of the June 24, 2009. According to sources, around 50 families were evacuated in the Kracow region, and flooding also caused damage and disruption in areas of Upper and Lower Silesia, where transport infrastructure and several villages were inundated.
Earlier during the week in Bavaria, southern Germany, roads and fields were flooded after heavy rain. However, forecasters were predicting an improvement of conditions as water levels receded during the night of June 24, 2009.
Elsewhere in the Slovak Republic, reports said that Bratislava raised a second-degree alert in western regions of the country where the Danube was expected to reach peak discharge levels later on the June 25, 2009. In Hungary, first or second degree alerts were raised for the upper sections of the Danube and Budapest raised the highest alert for the lower section of the river Raba. The Romanian capital, Bucharest, avoided the main downpours, but flooding was experienced in two southern districts of the country.
Although rainfall was decreasing in most of the affected countries by June 25, 2009, meteorologists in the Czech Republic were forecasting more rain into the weekend. Although not presently of the same scale, the present flooding is the worst since that experienced in 2002, when much of the central European region found itself under water.
Sources: Agence France Presse, Associated Press, Reuters News
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