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Central European Flooding Eases After Rains Kill Nine

Torrential rain that caused flash floods in parts of the Czech Republic, Poland and Germany, leaving nine people dead, eased overnight after water levels peaked and are receding in most areas, the Czech official weather service said.

“Skies remain cloudy in most parts of the country, but showers are only occasional and easing down,” Milos Dvorak, a meteorologist at the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute, said by phone today. “However, heavy rains may return on Wednesday night and in that case the situation would not be very optimistic.”

The flooding comes as governments are trying to cut spending following the debt crisis that began in Greece. Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas said his government will provide 40 million koruna ($2.14 million) to the Liberec region, north of Prague, to buy water, fuel and drugs to the flood-stricken area immediately.

The aid is part of a larger aid allocation of between 300 million koruna and 350 million koruna that they government plans to take from state budget reserves, Necas said today at a press conference in Prague. The Cabinet is not considering selling bonds to pay for flood relief at this time, he said. Ministers will discuss further measures on Aug. 11.

Rainfall Totals

As much as 200 millimeters (7.9 inches) of rainfall fell in 24 hours since Aug. 6, causing flash floods in the Czech Republic. A state of emergency remained for three northern rivers around Usti nad Labem and Liberec.

Three people died and three remain missing in the Czech Republic, the National Fire Brigade said today in an e-mailed statement. The flooding caused three additional deaths in Germany and three in Poland, the authorities said.

The total damage in Liberec region and the Elbe river basin may exceed 5 billion koruna, regional governors told CT24 TV today, while the European Union approved flood compensation for Poland. Most rivers and streams probably reached maximum water levels yesterday or early today, Dvorak said. The Hydrometeorological Institute will have a more detailed forecast on further rainfall tomorrow or the next day, Dvorak said.

The Czech government called an extraordinary session today to work out providing immediate financial aid. Necas said the military will deploying as many as 1,000 soldiers to supply water and food and clear roads in flooded areas.

Flooded Villages

In the Czech Republic, 124 villages were flooded during the weekend, the National Fire Brigade said. The brigade dispatched 1,200 firemen to work with army and police corps to rescue more than 2,000 people by boats, helicopters and heavy trucks, it said.

CEZ AS, the largest power utility in the Czech Republic, said about 900 households remain without electricity today, spokesman Sona Holingerova said on CT24. CEZ estimates costs linked to floods worth about 10 million koruna, Holingerova said.

RWE AG’s Czech unit reported some of its 4,000 customers in the two regions are still without gas supplies, spokesman Jiri Bezdek said by phone. RWE estimates “ten millions of koruna” in damage to its pipelines, Bezdek said.

Bombardier Inc. shut down its streetcar and commuter-train plant at Bautzen, Germany, after weekend flooding by the Spree river left the site as much as 1 meter (three feet) under water and idling more than 1,200 workers, company spokesman Heiner Spannuth said in a phone interview.

“We’re assessing the damage right now,” he said.

Poles Without Power

In Goerlitz on the Polish border, flooding by the Neisse river (Nysa in Polish) left about 5,000 residents without power as city officials took substations off-line, the city said on its website. Schools and day-care centers were shut at least until tomorrow.

The river receded to a level of 5.37 meters in Goerlitz at 8 a.m. today after cresting at 7.03 meters yesterday, the Saxony state environment ministry said on its website.

Southwestern Poland’s Bogatynia suffered the worst damage. The Miedzianka River, which is normally about 1 meter wide, flooded the city within two hours, damaging bridges, sweeping away several houses and leaving most of the 20,000 inhabitants without power and fresh water.

Today, 1,200 households are still without power and water, Lower Silesia Province Governor Rafal Jurkowlaniec said at a press conference in Wroclaw broadcast on private station TVN24.

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