Town of Troubky under water again 13 years after catastrophe

Hochwasser an der Bečva in Troubky (Foto: ČTK)

Fears of major flooding in east of the Czech Republic became a reality late Monday as the Central Moravian town of Troubky was inundated. While that town was being evacuated, a state of emergency has been declared in 16 other locations around Moravia. The rain continues to fall, but meteorologists monitoring the situation hope that the worst is over.

Many of the two-thousand residents of Troubky, near Olomouc, have been through this before: in 1997 the town was decimated when flooding washed 300 homes off the map and nine people lost their lives. Czech Radio’s reporter Jana Zemková was in Troubky on that occasion 13 years ago, and she rushed back there again in the early hours of Tuesday as the Bečva river broke its banks again.

Troubky,  photo: CTK
“I got in to Troubky at about 1.30 in the morning and the river had overflowed, but there was no dramatic problem. It wasn’t long though before the water flooded the main street, and now 90% of the town is flooded. Firemen began handling the voluntary evacuation of the town from around midnight last night and people have been brought by buses to nearby villages, where they are being put up in schools and a gymnasium. Roughly 200 people have made use of the evacuation services so far. The others are staying in their houses.”

Troubky has been waiting 13 years for the fulfilment of a promise to construct a dry polder – a huge type of reservoir that experts believe would protect the area. That project, however, is a question of three billion crowns and has been further complicated by negotiations with the landowners. With all the political attention that the situation received in 1997, there is bound to be anger when the water recedes, but for now Ms Zemková says that that is not what the residents have on their minds at the moment.

Troubky,  photo: CTK
“The atmosphere among the evacuees was surprisingly diverse. There were people who didn’t wait for anything, picked up their two-year-old child and left on the bus, remembering clearly what happened in 1997 and saying there was nothing to wait around for. But there are a lot of people who have refused to leave, saying that all the poorly built houses fell in the 1997 flood, that the new ones stand on good foundations, and that they are prepared to sit the flood out, if for no other reason than to protect their homes from robbers. According to the mayor, suspicious-looking strangers already started coming this morning.”

Elsewhere the threat of inundation is worst on the Olše River, where the water level is increasing upstream along the Polish border and near the eastern city of Ostrava. The nearby town of Bohumín says it is fighting rising water for every centimetre to protect a power substation, without which 23,000 people will be left without electricity. As four regions wait through a state of emergency, Jan Daňhelka from the forecasting department of the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute has his eye on events and believes the situation will soon improve.

Troubky,  photo: CTK
“The general forecast is that the precipitation will continue but its intensity will decrease during today. What is important is that the intensity will probably not be high enough to cause significant complication of the situation on the streams – there may be some temporary increases or stable water levels, but no significant increase is expected.”