Press Review

Stories on floods continue to fill up all of Friday's papers. The headlines today focus on Usti nad Labem and other towns in the North Bohemia region where the swollen water arrived after sweeping through Prague.

Stories on floods continue to fill up all of Friday's papers. The headlines today focus on Usti nad Labem and other towns in the North Bohemia region where the swollen water arrived after sweeping through Prague.

Mlada fronta Dnes carries a special supplement with photographs vividly depicting the damage caused by floodwater across the country. The paper also publishes a special supplement focusing on Czech towns that have been hit the hardest - the most devastating damage is described in detail and the paper also provides the number of people who had to be evacuated in each town in proportion to the number of inhabitants.

Lidove noviny features a page full of messages from people offering help. The paper has established a telephone help-line and an e-mail address where people willing to volunteer can send messages with their contact information.

Men doing community service instead of compulsory military service and the unemployed could help removing damage caused by floods, writes Pravo. The only complication is the current legislation that limits the use of such labour. Labour offices can only offer work to the unemployed but no one can make them take it. One possibility is to categorize the advertised work as temporary work beneficial to public - if the unemployed refuse to do it they could be removed from the Labour office's register and wouldn't qualify for unemployment benefits.

Hospodarske noviny writes about Pavel Uher - the man who helped to save Prague's historical Old Town with his proposal to use protective aluminum barriers. Without them, the Old Town would be 4 meters deep in water. A few years ago, Mr Uher traveled to Germany and Austria to explore what these countries use as prevention against floods. Inspired by what he found in the German city of Cologne, he adjusted the design to Czech needs and the result are aluminum Lego-like pieces that easily fit into each other and are quick to set up.

Unfortunately, Prague's preservationists didn't think the aluminum desks looked aesthetically pleasing enough, so they were reluctant to allow them to be installed in historical parts of Prague. Due to this and financial problems, water resources officers had time only to build the barriers in Prague's Old Town. As a result, parts of the picturesque Lesser Town and other riverbanks in Prague ended underwater, claims Hospodarske noviny.

According to Lidove noviny, an archive of Czech architecture has been severely damaged by floodwater. The archive, which belonged to the National Technical Museum, contained thousands of drawings, magazines, photographs and models documenting the creativity of influential Czech architects since mid 19th century. Sadly, the museum didn't have the financial resources to find appropriate storage space so the collection was kept in a damp building, which is now filled with water.

Lidove noviny criticizes Prague's mayor Igor Nemec, who repeatedly misinformed the public about the situation in Prague. The paper quotes things Mr. Nemec said that were incorrect or where he distorted the facts. At the beginning of the floods, the mayor was talking about the worst floods in twenty or fifty years, while Prague saw something much more serious. Later, he appealed to Prague's citizens to use the metro. This was at a time when several stations had already been shut down.

Moving back to Mlada fronta Dnes, the paper informs readers about an appeal by the famous actor Sean Connery who has been working on a film in Prague since June. Sean Connery met with Prague's officials on Thursday and addressed foreign TV stations calling for other countries to help Prague. The actor also suggested that if someone shoots a video documentary about the disastrous floods, he will add his voice and the video tape can be sent to TV stations all around the world.

And finally, the paper writes about tram number 9, which became something of a tourist sightseeing tram when the floodwaters in Prague were reaching their peak. The tram's route led through many of the flooded areas, so tourists took it as an opportunity to ride around, observe the disaster from close-up and take lots of pictures. This, of course, was also a great opportunity for pickpockets, for whom Wednesday turned into one of the most fruitful days ever.

Author: Kamila Rosolová
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