Prague marks first anniversary of flood catastrophe
August the 13th, 2002, is a day most people in Prague won't forget in a hurry - it began with wailing sirens and ended with the biggest deluge the Czech capital had seen in five hundred years. Exactly one year ago Prague woke up to find parts of the city underwater, and the effects of those "five hundred year" floods are still with us today.
Let's begin with a reminder of how Radio Prague reported those dramatic events, when the swollen River Vltava rose and rose before finally bursting its banks. Rob Cameron spent Tuesday the 13th on the streets and embankments of the city, and produced this report:
The warning came in the night. People living near the river were woken at four am on Tuesday, the sound of wailing sirens rousing them from their beds. Announcements on loudspeakers told them to pack up the bare minimum - food, water, medicines - and prepare to be evacuated. For many, Tuesday was a day of nerve-wracking anxiety.
By Tuesday afternoon, crowds of people were doing exactly what the authorities did not want them to do - heading for the embankments of the River Vltava, keen to catch a glimpse of the raging torrent.
"I've been here since half past nine in the morning. I just saw the river going up and up, just rising. You can see many things flowing in the water. Now you can see they are just trying to raise some things from the water, because they can damage the bridges. This is the first time something like this has happened in Prague."
Well not a day anyone of us will forget in a hurry - Rob, one year on, how much damage has been repaired, and how much work still remains to be done?
One of the biggest catastrophes of last August was the flooding of the Prague metro - a supposedly hermetically-sealed system that was meant to provide shelter to thousands of people in the event of a nuclear war. It didn't withstand the water very long, did it?
Right, and the big question is - do we know how much last year's floods actually cost this country?
"Well, the official figure for the total damage across the Czech Republic is 73 billion crowns, which is just over 2.5 billion dollars. But that doesn't include lost wages, farm losses and other hard-to-trace costs, so perhaps we'll never know the true figure."