Summer flooding a serious threat?

It's now three years since devastating floods hit the Czech Republic, killing some 50 people, sweeping away houses and leaving many people homeless. The catastrophe came as a great shock and opened a heated discussion on the country's already out-of-date emergency system. So with river levels rising after several weeks of rain, have the Czechs learnt their lesson? Zuzana Smidova reports.

There are women who start moving their furniture and valuables upstairs whenever it rains for a long time. Others say they've learnt how to survive a catastrophe. Those most affected by the merciless tide were old people, who with the loss of their houses lost most of their property. And the recent rainy weather in the Czech Republic has brought back memories of the floods.

Therefore I decided to call the Czech Meteorological Office, to find out more about the current situation and whether there was a danger of a repeat of 1997. They told me several rivers in North Moravia were on flood alert, and the heaviest rain was measured in the North Moravian Beskydy mountains, where they have measured 136 liters per square meter, but that the rain should ease off in the next few days. Summer, they said, should return to the Czech Republic on Friday.

So the forecast looks good, finally, and the danger of floods is not so imminent - let's hope. But have we really learnt from the past? To find out more about the current emergency systems I called the Emergency Centre in Ostrava, where the rain has been heaviest in recent days. I spoke to the operating officer, Mr Dankovic, and asked him how the centre worked: River levels in North Moravia are expected to peak around midnight on Monday and so Mr Dankovic and his colleagues still have a lot of work to do. But the threat of flooding - as many remember it from 1997 - doesn't seem to be so real, at least not this week.

Author: Zuzana Šmídová
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