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Thursday, 22 August, 2002, 10:04 GMT 11:04 UK
European floods: Are you affected?
Severe flooding has caused thousands more people to be evacuated across central Germany as the swollen Elbe breached defences in many towns and villages.
Overnight, the floods claimed more victims, bringing the number killed in the Saxony region alone to 15. Twenty-five people are still reported missing.
The flood waters, which have already devastated Prague and Dresden, are powering towards the North Sea.
Billions of dollars worth of property, infrastructure and crops have been destroyed from Russia's Black Sea to Austria in the worst flooding seen in Europe for more than a century.
Are you affected by the floods? How have you coped? Tell us your experiences.
Jonathan, United States/Germany
I live by the River Elbe between Geesthacht and Hamburg. The water will soon become higher in our area but not at present expected to overflow... The Deich has had considerable work done on it in the last two years to increase its height and strength. People are generally very relaxed but having seen what the waters can do, I remain nervous. The main street by the Elbe will be closed tonight and we shall see what happens in the next days.
Jonathan Oaten, Prague
I live in the Holesovice suburb of Prague and have just returned after being evacuated for six days. The water was 18 inches deep in our street but our flat was on the third floor so I consider myself one of the lucky ones. Many have completely lost their homes and some their livelihoods. Now the waters have subsided comes the difficult clean up and reconstruction. The Czech economy is fragile and will find it very hard to recover from this disaster. I urge all countries who are able, to help now. Prague is a city enjoyed by many foreign visitors, not just its inhabitants.
I want to thank all our friends all around the world that offer us help. Situation in the Czech Republic really is very serious, but we feel much better when we see that we are not alone. Our neighbours are super! Thank you everyone who has helped. If YOU have any problems in the future, we will help you as much as we will be able to do. And you - Germans and Austrians - be strong in these hard moments.
Antje, Dresden, currently in the US
I used to visit Prague almost weekly, and as I could see the pictures of the flood in this marvellous city a few days ago I hardly could believe my eyes. Here in Budapest the atmosphere is now settled though we were afraid a bit which is no wonder after these horrible news from our neighbouring countries. We were shocked by the news from Southern Germany, Austria but especially from Prague and Bratislava. I hope in Budapest will the water of the Danube fall soon, because the streets along the river and some houses are flooded and the traffic's overcrowded. And finally I want to send a message to the countries suffering from the flood: Just hold on! And we are with you.
I have a great sympathy and compassion for all the European people affected by this catastrophe, which will have a negative economic impact around the world. I think the indirect cause of such catastrophe is the global warming of the earth's atmosphere which is due to human activities: pollution and the greenhouse effect and our frenetic consumption mode. For my part I will do my very best to reduce the damage to nature and I hope that all people will follow the same path in order to protect ourselves from further catastrophes.
Edward Kaczinski, USA
For Ed Kaczinski and others willing to contribute to flood victims: one of the most successful, efficient and transparent relief organisations in the Czech Republic is Prague-based People in Need Foundation (Clovek v tisni in Czech) with experience from many disaster areas from Bosnia to Afghanistan. They also co-ordinate volunteer work. Enquire at email@example.com [or see under Internet links on the right side of this page].
I was in Passau at the weekend and was stunned to see how high the water level had been. Even though Passau is used to flooding it must be absolutely devastating to those who suffer. The damage caused and the mud left behind was a reminder to me that we shouldn't take our lives for granted. In a split second it could be over!
My son, Andrew, has been staying in a hostel in Ceski Krumlov and I have not heard from him since August 8. If anyone has seen him and can let me know if he's okay, I would feel very much better.
Myself and a few friends are due to fly out to Warsaw on Monday and plan to travel through Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Croatia. Whilst I hear that much of the worst may be over, and also that these regions aren't as badly hit, does anyone know who we can contact to offer help? Whilst some tourists may be happy to stand around and have pictures taken, we'd much rather help out wherever we possibly can.
I'm very concerned for my friends in Plzen whom I've been unable to contact. Irena, Petr and their two children live on Komenskeho. Can anyone tell me the situation in that area? Thank you.
I have some friends who live in Brno, Czech Republic. Does anyone know if the area around Brno is affected? I would be very happy if anyone could tell me, because I'm very worried. They were supposed to travel to Sweden, is it possible to leave Brno and Czech Republic at the moment?
To Emelie, Sweden: The Brno area was not affected by the flood, don't worry.
Yesterday I was helping as a volunteer in a catastrophic zone near my hometown. The pictures I saw there were horrible. 20 or more centimetres mud in every house, in every room. People try to save their goods as good as possible. Austria will manage this crisis easily because people help each other. In these days I'm very proud of my country!
Sacha Lisse, Leipzig, Germany
I live in Leipzig which, compared to Dresden, is not affected. However, my parents live in the area which has been flooded. It is just frustrating to see that all the work that was done during the last 12 years has gone down the drain. Greetings to all the people affected and thanks to all for their compassion. Bless you all.
My relatives live in Bratislava, Slovakia and I am very concerned about the Danube overflowing there as well. I'm glad that the citizens of Prague were prepared for the worst.
To Katarina from New York: Luckily, there was plenty of time to build barriers against high water, so Danube in Bratislava stayed in its banks, only Devin was flooded. To all the good people in the world: if you want to help the most affected regions in the Czech Republic - drink Czech beer, it's very good. Luck to Dresden and all flooded areas in Germany too.
To all those affect, my thoughts and prayers are with you. I cannot imagine what you are going through, but wish you strength and hope you get through this.
Seeing these images of my beautiful Prague leaves me shocked and in disbelief. I spent a lot of time in Prague over the course of 1998, and returned to live there for a year in 2000-2001. I have this feeling that I cannot shake, of my apartment on Francouzska, just a short walk from Namesti Miru, being gone. And what about Namesti Miru? Is the church affected? Is the Lauder School on Belgicka still operational? If anyone has any further news for me, it would be greatly appreciated. I am trying to get in contact with friends and ex-students still over there for any news. Prague lives in my heart and I am devastated to see it so.
Samantha-Jane: Namesti Miru and Francouzska are located very high above the river and were spared. Districts on the right bank were not affected much in the centre, but further downstream the district of Karlin, Liben, Troja still looks like Venice. We are still waiting for water to subside to assess the damage and start repairing.
The water broke through our barriers right on the square. The metro will be out of working for months. But the spirit of our glorious city is always "Zlate" and we are always big and upright. Dresden (twin town of Prague) we are praying for you. Your beautiful messages always help. With my love.
I am a Czech citizen living in the US, and after seeing the images and reading the articles about the floods in Prague from my Atlanta apartment, I felt so helpless. I was devastated. What I wouldn't give to be amongst the brave volunteers carrying sandbags in Staromestska (Old Town Square), Mala Strana, near Karluv (Charles Bridge), trying to save one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.
In Prague the situation is getting better. Unfortunately a part of the subway system in downtown Prague is still under water, and it will take a few weeks, maybe even months until it is fully operational. I am thankful to all countries that have offered and administered help. It is boosting our moral.
I live in Dresden on the north bank of the river. I live close to the river - normally 200m away, today only about 50 - but high enough up to be safe. Yesterday evening I was helping with the sandbag wall outside of the Opera house. There were thousands of Dresdner people there helping, but it sounds like our efforts were in vain.
As a Scotsman living in Dresden I can let people know that the north of the river is OK so far, I live ten minutes by tram from Elbe in Klotzsche and everything is OK here, but was a bit worrying on the south side near the swinger opera house at 1700 Thursday, watching the water slowly rise.
I am on a two month backpacking holiday and was caught in Prague when the floodwaters came to their crest. After my hostel was given the order to evacuate, we were taken to a school shelter on higher ground where the people have gone above and beyond anything I could expect during such a time of duress. The organization, preparedness, and, above all, kindness they have shown during this emergency has left me with the utmost admiration for the character of the Czech people. I urge anyone who has the means to contribute to the recovery effort any way they can.
I can't imagine what the people affected by the flooding must be going through. From the letters I have read the Czechs sound like amazing people who know how to handle a crisis and really stick together. They must be immensely proud of their country. I look forward to sticking to my travel plans and visiting Prague and Budapest in a couple of weeks.
Nicholas, United States
We have been to Prague, and Germany and I am really hurting for all of you. I am going to be keeping you in my prayers. God be with all of you.
My stepdaughter is travelling from Budapest to Salzburg. Does anyone have any current information on the flood situation in Salzburg?
To all clubbers who know or ever were in one of the most famous clubs in Europe. I have really bad news because I've just learnt that Roxy club is totally damaged. The club is nearly overflowing and water reaches the balcony-level and all interior decorations are damaged as well. It's going take a couple of weeks to clean everything up. All events for month of August are cancelled due to the floods. Thanks to all who support us. Thanks to all people living in Europe who help us. We really appreciate you helping us.
I am remembering the army of sandbaggers who helped hold back the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers here in the St. Louis area where I live. That was 1993. I'm with you all in spirit and wish I could be there to help.
My heart bleeds when I see the pictures and news footage of what's happening in these beautiful cities. These are all the places I have visited and love very much. I have experienced a few floods in Hong Kong and Taiwan, where the typhoon season lasts five months every year. My heart goes out to all those who have suffered loss and those who are in despair. However, I am angry with the tourists who gain pleasure and excitement from witnessing the disaster, while local people are frantically trying to save their lives and properties.
Quote of the British tourists: "It's frustrating not to visit places but we've been to see the river... you can't deny it's an exciting time to be here."
They are unaffected by the floods, but feeling they must witness everything that is making headlines. I have seen a couple posing with a sandbag in front of the camera, but not helping at all, I am sure that I will remember this lesson.
To Martin Tocik: Martin, I am so sorry you have had to experience the nauseating British tourists who told you it was "frustrating" not to be able to visit the usual tourist places, and that it was for them "an exciting time" to be in Prague, as they posed for photographs with a sandbag -- without lifting a finger to help. You say you will remember this lesson. Please remember that in every country there are morons. Apart from those few, I am sure that the great majority of the British people feel heartfelt sympathy for you and everyone affected by these dreadful floods throughout central Europe.
Peter Paschten, Germany, Saxony
My daughter is working at the University of Dresden for the summer. She was supposed to leave 15 August for Rome, but I have heard the train station in Dresden is flooded. I have not heard from her and am of course worried. Any information anyone has concerning Dresden would be appreciated.
To Tracy Moore:
I come from Dresden and have just read your e-mail. I can assure you that the situation in Dresden is getting
better day after day. Slowly but surely, Dresden is getting back to normality.
The level of the river Elbe has been receding for the past days, and I think the worst is over by now.
The main station has been reopened again but there is a limited train service at the moment. I'm sure it'll take a a while till trains run normally again.
Telephone connections should be working by now (I don't know about mobile phones, but landline connections in most parts of the city should be fine by now) Dresden is very much alive though!
Things are improving here in Plzen - West Bohemia. Water levels are lower in our rivers. Transport is better. It is going to be somewhat cloudy and somewhere sunny today. Weather forecast is optimistic for West Bohemia. Please learn from our floods.
We are in limbo here and not sure what to do, just hoping we do not have to continue to pay rent at two places for very long. I did see a Red Cross distribution area and may (If I am able to communicate with someone) try to see if there is anything a non-Czech speaking person can do.
To Judie Clark: You can get assistance if you contact the American Embassy where they speak English as well as Czech. They are listed in the phone book. I recently returned from a trip to Prague and am heartsick at the devastation to this lovely City. May God help you all. I wish I could help my friends there but all I can do is to keep everyone in my prayers.
I live on the border of the Czech Republic and East Germany, I work next to a river that was due to break its banks on Mon/Tues. Luckily the river is now at normal levels. The determination of the Czech people is relentless and carried out without panic, I have no doubt whatsoever that the situation in Prague will be defeated, and it will be down to the resolve of individuals, and their bloody-mindedness in the face of a possible catastrophe.
My wife Lenka is Czech and from Usti Nad Labem. The River Labem has flooded the whole town and the bridges have been closed off. Power has been cut in most parts of Usti nad Labem. I am also travelling to Czech on 21 August and will help if I can.
Peter Freestone, Czech Republic
My mother and her friend are in HTL Legner Hotel in Praha 9. Does anyone know what is happening in this area??
I am so saddened to see the beautiful city of Prague under so much water. I was there a few years ago and fell in love with this poetic place.
My thoughts are with you all.
My brother has been evacuated from the Cloister Inn but we don't know where to. We are very worried about his safety, has anyone got any news?
For Rachel Smith, who is worried about her brother: Rachel, your brother is safe, he has been moved to another hotel (KK Fenix, Ve Smeckach 30, Praha 1) near the Wenceslas Square.
Paul, Prague, Czech Rep
Bratislava is also heavily flooded together with other parts of the country, where people are trapped.
The German government is estimating several billion euro damage in Eastern and South East Germany. Among other things the historic centre of Dresden has suffered, around 100 houses have been destroyed in surrounding areas and there are some hundred towns and villages under two metres of water.
I'm currently cycling from Dublin to Delhi and I'm stuck in Dresden. 2m high floods are not good for cycling!
I was horrified to see the news of the elephant trapped in Prague Zoo with water lapping around its head and clearly distressed. Is no one going to try and rescue that superb animal?
To M Rennie and everybody moved by the tragedy in the zoo:
Kadir the elephant was 35 years old (quite young for an elephant), and very much a personality. Even at normal times, he would be dangerous to approach, and would sometimes charge even at his carer. He could not be just led away. The only possibility to move Kadir was to use a huge transport cage, which the zoo did not have, and there was none in the country. The zoo would have needed two days to build the cage and prepare Kadir for transport, but did not have the time. Until Monday night, authorities were reassuring the public that the floods would be a "twenty-year water", which the zoo was prepared for. Tuesday morning, a three-hundred-year water came, in the form of a a tidal wave...
To everybody: Thank you very much for your concern, solidarity and help. And our thoughts are with people in the neighbouring countries suffering from floods now.
Vladka, Czech Republic
There is flooding in Plzen, especially in the centre. We are at the point where four rivers meet. The good news is that water is flowing down the rivers. I am lucky because I live 50 meters from Radbuza river banks on a hill.
We were staying at the boathouse hostel right next to the river. We had been watching the river slowly rise, until 3.30 Monday morning. This is when we were evacuated and taken to a local school. Our thanks go out to the people in the school for their unbelievable hospitality. Also Vera and Helena who have become the honorary mums of about 50 stranded backpackers. For such a dire situation the atmosphere is still good. Thank you Prague and good luck.
I've arranged a trip to Prague on the 29 August. I've just spoken to the insurance company who will not cover me for cancelling because of the floods. Can anyone there tell me if we should cut our losses and lose out on Ł200 or come over and hope for the best.
For Chris, UK and other concerned travellers: The peak in Prague is over now. The water has been declining for about two hours now. The Old Town hasn't been flooded in the end - though there was just a thin metal wall on the bank protecting it from four metres of water. If you want to see the "traditional" Prague, postpone your trip. If you want to see Prague as none of your friends has seen it yet - don't hesitate.
My girlfriend has been stuck in the small town of Cesky Krumlov south of Prague for four days without power or telephone lines, using a mobile phone for communication. She has an opportunity to get to Vienna by train tomorrow morning. Can anyone give me any advice I can pass on to her regarding what is happening in Vienna? Last I heard they were worried the Danube might burst its banks. Thanks in advance for any information.
Slamák, Prague, Czech
I am a Czech national currently living in the UK. My family lives in the region of Ceske Budejovice and are okay. I would like to wish all of you affected by the floods best of luck. My thoughts are with you!
I was on holiday in this region last week. It is strange to see what has happened in Prague in a week. The flooding in Salzburg started when I was there. I'm thinking of you all!
I'd like to express my deepest sorrow to those who lost their relatives or who had to leave their houses because of the flood. Hope everything gets better very soon. Best of luck till then.
To anyone who needs to get fresh flood news and who understands the Czech language - one of the sources of the up to date news is on: http://zpravy.centrum.cz/zaplavy/minuty.html. Good luck to us all!
I have just returned from Prague and believe the media coverage is exaggerated - although people have been sandbagging for several nights the floods remain localised and damage is internal rather than structural. The evacuation was not a mass exodus but a calm and targeted exercise. Prague will survive!
Two of my cousins are somewhere in the midst of the flooding in the Czech Republic. They are hoping to get out of the region today. My heart goes out to all those affected.
To everyone who's safe and dry: You're lucky! I live in a small city (25,000 people) and I was filling sandbags for about three hours last night, with many other volunteers. Thanks to all people who helped (especially to those women-with-warm-tea). Best luck to all the others!
I just flew back from Prague today. From my hotel window, I saw water rise a few feet every day. We were evacuated as reserve electricity was utilised and most of the ground floor had been flooded. There was lots of debris, including a 20 feet gas tank, floating down River Vltava. Sirens have been going on all night and army vehicles are everywhere. Most believe the water will recede soon or the sandbags will protect the city - panic will set in only if the water reaches above Charles Bridge - this will be catastrophic.
I've been in Prague for the whole time of the floods. People are helping each other and the city is NOT struck by panic. I would like to give my big thanks to the local offices, the police and the volunteers, who have all done a great job. Most public transport is running, and most of Prague is totally unaffected by the flood. Although it is true that there is quite a lot of damage done to buildings and historical sites. If you have any friends or relatives currently in Prague or elsewhere in Bohemia, please do not be afraid: the worst crisis is already over.
Karen Gilsenan, UK
Yes, the situation here is bad but under control. I think that you don't have to worry about your family and friends' safety. If they were in a dangerous area, they have probably been evacuated to a school or such a place where they are safe and well looked after. But if you are planning to visit our country these days, you should put it off because after the water flows away there will be a hard work to repair all the damages. Now just pray for us ok? Thanks and good luck for you all.
I am from Austria, and most parts of my province - upper Austria - are completely flooded, as well as lower Austria, Salzburg and other parts of my country. The situation is devastating. The infrastructure is completely destroyed in most parts of the country. The crops are lost, agriculture destroyed. Thousands of people are homeless, lost everything they had. The future for the region is yet not comprehensible.
In the Czech Republic, the South-Bohemian metropolis of Budweis (Budejovice (yes, that's where the real Budweiser is brewed) has been struck the worst. The entire city has been evacuated and the downtown area is completely submerged in water. Pilsen (Plzen), which stands upon four rivers, has also suffered great damage.
Claire Nelson, UK
I am very much saddened by this small but strangely powerful flood. To all my friends in the UK, please rest assured that myself and the girls are all safe.
I have just been reading the news articles relating to the floods in Prague, and just wanted to pass on my thoughts and best wishes to the people there, battling to save their possessions and businesses. I had the pleasure of visiting this stunning city a few years back, and fell in love with it. Good luck and take care.
My husband's secretary Paula Mathews is on holiday in Prague with her partner. We have no idea where they were staying but are concerned for their safety. Would they have been evacuated from their hotel?
Ceske Budejovice town centre is closed off and people evacuated - confirmed by work colleagues and local bank. Electrical power supply has been cut off, unlikely to be restored before Thursday.
Lubos, Czech Republic
I have just got home to Vienna from Salzburg. The trip normally takes about two hours but this time the motorway was flooded and the diverted route was also flooded. The fire service did a great job of rescuing trapped motorists and coach passengers in heavy rain last night. These guys are all volunteers (no perks as far I can see) yet they were still at it this morning. So thanks to the guys and girls of the Feurwehr.
I am currently backpacking around Europe and was in a Prague hostel last night. So far we have been very well looked after and I haven't seen any of the chaos mentioned in the reports. We have been ensconced in a school on high ground and given food, water and blankets. From the small amount I can make out, the Czech people I have spoken to also appear quite unconcerned by the situation and expect it to be over by tomorrow or Thursday.
I would be grateful to anyone who can tell me what is happening in the Ceske Budejovice region of Czech. My wife and two young daughters are visiting her parents and have been evacuated from the town centre. I have no idea how or what resources the local authorities are able to employ and any news is good news.
Thank you in anticipation.
It's unbelievable what is happening in middle Europe. My sister lives in Steyr where the biggest part is under two and a half metres of water. And the situation doesn't become better. In Vienna the situation is under control, because of the installations against high water. At the moment there are 10,000 cubic metres flowing through the city. I send much luck to Prague and all other flooded areas.
I am Czech but I live in the UK. My husband and I are supposed to go to the Czech Republic for three weeks camping holiday this Friday. I was so looking forward to my holiday but now I feel like crying. Most of my family lives near Ceske Budejovic, which is one of the worst affected areas. I know they are OK, but I am still very worried.
We are now thinking of cancelling our trip but at the same time I really want to go home and see my family.
Complete over reaction. It's bad down by the river where some restaurants are located only a few centimetres above the regular water line but I guess people love a drama...
I am supposed to travel to Prague on Thursday and have been looking forward to this trip for months now.
I feel so sorry for the residents of this historic city and I would like to be advised if they think I should still go?
Ian: I would strongly recommend to change your flight. It would be a great shame for you to miss out so much, as the river is indeed the 'crown' in the heart of Prague... It will also remain quite chaotic, the public transport (including the metro) is currently not working, which certainly wouldn't help. The only alternative would be to take a train elsewhere in Bohemia or Moravia, to areas which have not been affected. Thank you for your concerns.
Here in Prague we're expecting the highest water in 100 years at around 14:00 (13:00 BST). The rate of flow at the moment in Prague is 150 cubic metres per second, after 14:00 it will be over 4,000 cubic metres per second!
I am off to Italy for three weeks tomorrow and my planned route takes me through Switzerland and southern Germany. At the moment, I have no idea what roads are going to be closed. I was also planning on taking my children on a day trip to Seefeld in Austria to see where my mum's ashes were scattered, but I doubt that will happen.
Jez, the mountain areas of Austria, such as those around Seefeld, are untouched by the flooding.
13 Aug 02 | Europe
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