Terezin recovering, some residents still in temporary housing one year after floods

Terezin, photo: CTK

August 15 - 18 2002 are days that will remain in the minds of the people of Terezin for many years to come. Not only because they still have vivid memories of the horrors they endured when water from the Elbe and Ohre rivers swept through their property, but also because many are still living in temporary housing, waiting for their homes to dry out.

The floods in Terezin, situated 60 kilometres from Prague, made water levels rise up to 2,5 metres, destroying the ground floors of flats, stores, offices, schools and museums. Roman Cervenka is from the Terezin Town Hall:

Terezin, photo: CTK
"I think life is back to normal, except for a few families who are living in temporary housing because their homes are still being rebuilt. Our school at Terezin is going through complete reconstruction. On September 1, some classes will be moved to several other locations in the town for four or five months. At the same time, the galleries are being repaired as part of the historical fortification. For the same reason, the gas distribution was disconnected in certain districts until today. I think that Terezin will need another year, and lots of power and money, for all repairs. Our town hall is trying to repair the whole historical fortification, which could be used as a wall against high water levels in the future."

One of the photographs many Czechs will remember from to last year's floods was that of the former Terezin concentration camp - where tens of thousands of people - mostly Jews - were interned, tortured and killed during the Nazi occupation. The vast cemetery was flooded and turned into one big lake with only two large structures rising out of the water - the Star of David at one end and a large cross at the other. Although the Terezin museum reopened its doors to the public just two weeks after the floods, it is still recovering today. The permanent exhibitions at the small fortress are still closed and exhibition rooms have yet to dry out. The Jewish cemetery is still under reconstruction and it will be months before the crematorium building will be re-opened to visitors. In the town of Terezin itself, the Ghetto Museum has been recovered and the Magdeburg Barracks have also been rebuilt.

For more on the Terezin Memorial one year after the floods, tune into next week's Arts with Dita Asiedu.