Clean up work is underway in many parts of the country following a week of heavy flooding and individual municipalities have started assessing the degree of flood damage. The first overall estimate is 5 billion crowns/ over 200 million US dollars/, but much more will have to go into flood prevention measures around the country.
Although the devastating floods of 2002 were perceived as a serious warning, the spring floods of 2006 revealed that many municipalities were once again caught unprepared. Mayors and river basin managers have started counting the costs of effective anti-flood measures. The management in charge of the Vltava basin will have to spend close to two billion crowns in the next three years, the management of the river Morava, says it will need to invest 13 billion in the course of the next 15 years. As yet nobody is quite sure where the money will come from, but it will inevitably be a combination of state and local funds with some help from EU coffers.
The minister for Regional Development Radko Martinek says that in view of the increased frequency of floods in central Europe radical action is needed. In addition to effective flood prevention measures, which the municipalities should regard as a top priority, he wants the state to encourage people living in the worst effected areas to move out. He has suggested setting up a flood fund which would be used to buy up property which is now hard to insure and practically impossible to sell. Another option is to give people living close to the river a state-owned plot of land eleswhere. People who refused to move to safe ground would not be eligible for flood support from the government in the future. The minister has not ruled out issuing a compulsory purchase order on some homes which are seen as critical in changing the course of the floodwater and thus endangering others. This latter point is a matter of controversy - with the opposition Civic Democrats saying it goes too far.
The first response from mayors in the high risk areas is cautious. None of them wanted to comment publicly until the government presented them with a clear-cut proposal. But, as one of them told me privately convincing people would not be easy- "ask them now and stressed out as they are many might say yes, but in a few months time it could be a whole different story".