Parts of northern Bohemia hit by severe flooding

Photo: CTK

Severe flooding hit the parts of the Czech Republic over the weekend, claiming at least three lives and causing widespread damage. Heavy rain on Saturday swelled rivers and streams in both northern and southern Bohemia, and thousands of people had to be evacuated. More than 4,000 households remain without electricity and gas supplies.

Photo: CTK
The tiny Smědá River in north Bohemia was flowing at 30 times its usual rate in Frýdlant on Saturday, flooding the town and cutting off all of its access routes. A steel bridge across the river was destroyed in just a few moments.

Frýdlant was one of the communities worst hit by the weekend’s floods. Rainfall in parts of northern and southern Bohemia reached record levels, and over-saturated water soil could no longer absorb the rain. The first flood wave culminated on Saturday afternoon; at least three people drowned, and hundreds of homes were flooded.

Photo: CTK
Gisela Škodová, deputy mayor of the nearby town of Mníšek, described the situation.

“At least 50 buildings have been flooded and had to be evacuated. They were pulling people out of the windows because they couldn’t reach them otherwise. The town hall is also flooded. When I look out of the window, everything is under water. The fence around the town hall is also submerged, and the crossroads which is normally two meters higher than the river, is now one metre below the water level.”

Photo: CTK
The situation deteriorated later on Saturday. Five helicopters evacuated villages when a nearby dam threatened to burst. People were even picked up from the roofs of their houses in another north Bohemian town, Chrastava. Lenka Moravcová is the spokeswoman of the regional emergency services.

“An emergency services helicopter rescued 16 people in the Chrastava area. Two of them were small children and one was a patient with disabilities. Right now, paramedics have confirmed three deaths directly linked to the floods.”

Stanislav Eichler,  Radek John,  Václav Klaus and Petr Nečas,  photo: CTK
On Sunday afternoon things began looking up somewhat, with the news that water levels were beginning to recede. Top Czech officials, including President Václav Klaus and Prime Minister Petr Nečas, visited the area, and promised the immediate release of emergency funds. The Czech army sent in another 400 troops to help with the clean up. Among those in need of help is Frýdlant woman Marie Šulcová.

“All this mud… the next door neighbour’s flat is totally flooded. We were lucky enough that we managed to stop the water from entering out kitchen. But the rest of the house was also flooded, and we lost pretty much everything.”

Some 4,000 households in north Bohemia remain without electricity and water supplies, and a number of roads and railway lines in the region are still closed.