Vaclav Richter - under water and on the wrong side of the law

Vaclav Richter

Under normal circumstances, most people would envy Vaclav Richter his flat in Prague's Old Town, down near the river and right by the medieval Convent of Saint Agnes. But because of the floods Vaclav, who works as a journalist here at Radio Prague, was among the 50 thousand Prague citizens evacuated last week. After several nervous days of no news about the state of his house, he decided to ignore police cordons and go and have a look. This in itself was something of an adventure, and as Vaclav Richter now tells us, he suddenly found himself on the wrong side of the law.

"I got to a place where I could see our house. I saw that the house was under water, and it was an awful feeling. It was quite a job getting there, through the police cordons, because everything had been declared a no-go area. They weren't letting anyone into the Old Town - and I can understand that because they wanted to prevent looting. So I crept through the streets like a spy. Every time I saw a policeman drawing nearer, I'd creep into a doorway and wait until he'd gone past, and then, when I was standing in despair outside our house, looking at the dismal sight of everything under water, two policeman came up and arrested me. I explained my situation, and I think they really must have heard the despair in my voice, I told them that I was responsible for all the flats in the house, that none of the helplines I'd phoned were working, and this was the only way I could find out what state my house was in. Luckily they felt sorry for me and let me go. I was lucky. I know of one case where the caretaker of a house was dragged off to the police station and held for several hours."