Czechs mark 20 years since worst floods in human memory
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.
“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.
“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.