Prague Prepares to Clean Up From Flooding as Vltava Crests

Prague prepared to clean up from three days of flooding that disrupted transportation and left parts of the Czech capital under water for the second time in less than 11 years.

The Vltava river, which winds through the city of 1.3 million inhabitants, crested early today and began receding after flooding 4 percent of the metropolis. The famed 650 year-old Charles Bridge straddling the Vltava, parts of the subway and embankments in the Kampa or Smichov areas remained closed.

“The situation in Prague is stabilized and the worst is behind us,” acting mayor Tomas Hudecek said in a statement broadcast by news channel CT24. “Right now, we are dealing with the complicated transport situation and putting together clean-up plans as the subway will have to remain closed for at least a day.”

With all dams on the river at capacity, it will be some time before waters recede fully, the Vltava river basin management said. City officials, who were caught unprepared by flooding in 2002 that devastated the city’s subway system and the embankment areas, rushed on June 2 to erect a new flood barrier system purchased in the wake of the last disaster.

Some 17 kilometers (10 miles) of anti-flood barriers remained in place to protect the city from the swollen river, although the water levels have decreased, the fire brigade said.

Floodwaters also inundated cities and towns in the south, west and north parts of the Czech Republic, destroying homes, businesses and killing eight people. Around 10,000 people were evacuated as today, including inhabitants of the town of Terezin, site of a memorial for the World War II Jewish ghetto located northwest of Prague.

Damage Estimate

The damage in the Czech Republic may total as much as 35 billion koruna ($1.78 billion), according to Martin Lobotka, an economist at Ceska Sporitelna AS in Prague. Repairs may add 0.6 percent to 0.7 percent to nominal gross domestic product in the second half of the year, he said in a report to clients yesterday.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas pledged the government will provide 5.3 billion koruna ($267 million) for flood relief, mainly from the state budget, the Czech state newswire reported.

CEZ AS, the largest Czech producer of electricity, preventively shut down Melnik 2 and Melnik 3 power plants with a combined capacity of 720 megawatts as the Elbe river continued to rise.

Pivovary Staropramen, the country’s second-largest producer of beer, stopped work yesterday at its Smichov site in Prague because of the floods. Spolana Neratovice, a chemical plant that produced Agent Orange in the 1960s, also closed its factory located some 16 kilometers (9.9 miles) north of Prague, CTK reported.

A high alert for flooding remains in effect for some 40 locations around the Czech Republic while rain moves away from the battered Bohemia region toward the north-east. While more rain is scheduled in coming days, sunlight broke over the capital today for the first time in days.

With the Elbe not expected to crest until tomorrow, authorities still continued to evacuate thousands of inhabitants of Melnik, Decin and Usti and Labem north of Prague.

The Elbe, which joins the Vltava near the town of Melnik, may reach water levels of 11.3 meters (37 feet), nearing highs from the 2002 floods, the fire brigade said today.

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