Following days of heavy rainfall in central Europe, the town hall in Grimma, Germany, was turned into a virtual island as water from the River Mulde flooded the town center, 6 June 2013. Photo: Jens Wolf / European Pressphoto Agency

By Kirsten Grieshaber
8 June 2013

BERLIN (AP) – About 120,000 emergency personnel including firefighters and soldiers were on duty Saturday, working aggressively to contain the most dramatic floods in Germany in a decade. Thousands of residents were still unable to return to their homes, and bridges and streets were impassable in many regions of eastern and southern Germany.

Twenty people reportedly have already died in the floods across central Europe after several days of heavy rains.

German news agency dpa said people in Magdeburg in Saxony-Anhalt were anxiously waiting downstream as the crest of the Elbe river approached Saturday, while residents further upstream were starting to clean up the debris that was left along the river.

In Magdeburg, authorities evacuated a nursing home and turned off electricity in several parts of the city. Where the Saale river meets the Elbe, about 3,000 people had to leave their homes.

High water levels were also reported in Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, while thousands of people in Austria were busy shoveling away mud left by the receding floodwaters of the Danube.

In Hungary, around 2,000 residents of the town of Gyorujfalu northwest of the capital of Budapest were evacuated because authorities were afraid the levees wouldn’t withstand the pressure of the Danube’s waters. Another 980 residents had to leave their homes along the river out of precaution.

The rising waters of the Danube, Europe’s biggest river, were expected to reach Budapest on Monday. The water levels were already at 28.2 feet (8.60 meters) on Saturday and expected to rise to 29.4 feet (8.95 meters) at the peak of the flood — inching close up to the top of the river’s flood fences, which are 30.5 feet (9.30 meters) tall. [more]

Floods in central Europe continue to create havoc


In Austria, roads were severely damaged after heavy rainfall caused flooding along rivers and lakes, 6 June 2013. The Austrian meteorological service reported that two months' worth of rain fell in the country in the last two days, according to the BBC, significantly straining the local infrastructure. Photo: Kerstin Joensson / AP

MUEHLBERG, 7 June 2013 (Agence France-Presse) – Germany’s race to shore up dams on swollen rivers shifted to the north Friday while Hungary braced for a record flood surge as other central European regions began counting the cost of the deadly flooding.

Volunteers, rescuers and soldiers in northern German states feverishly piled up sandbags along the Elbe river which has already deluged vast stretches with seas of brown water from the Czech Republic to eastern Germany.

Hungarians reinforced dikes along the Danube through the night ahead of an expected record flood in the capital, Budapest, in Europe’s worst river flooding in over a decade that has forced mass evacuations and killed at least 12.

While the Danube had already reached record levels in western Hungary early Friday, Budapest was expected to bear the brunt after the weekend amid predictions the river would rise to more than double the level usual for the time of year.

“It is now clear that we are facing the worst floods of all time,” said Prime Minister Viktor Orban in a statement after spending the night in a military barracks in the deluged western city of Gyor.

After days of flooding in southern and eastern Germany, more than 11,000 soldiers have been deployed to help.

German Chamber of Trade and Industry head Eric Schweitzer said in Friday’s Rheinische Post newspaper that in some regions the damage was expected to be greater than in the 2002 floods whose economic cost had amounted to 11 billion euros ($15 billion).

In the medieval city of Magdeburg in Saxony-Anhalt state, the Elbe surpassed record levels from historic flooding in 2002 Friday with worse still to come, according to officials.

Dozens of army and Red Cross jeeps and trucks were parked at the entry to Muehlberg, a town of 4,000 inhabitants in Brandenburg state, 150 kilometers (90 miles) south of the capital Berlin.

“We are afraid. But we must wait here for that to pass because we have animals,” Silke Christen, 47, who owns a horse-breeding business, told AFP.

Volunteers scrambled to fill sandbags as the Elbe reached 9.9 metres Friday, just 10 centimetres below the maximum the dykes are able to resist.

“As you can see, it’s urgent,” a soldier commented, while a firefighter described the situation as “tense”.

Little respite was in sight for residents of another Saxony-Anhalt city, Bitterfeld, visited Thursday by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, where more residents fled to safety as a lake threatened to flood parts of the city. […]

For some, the floods will only compound the damage from 2002.

“Many houses still don’t have facades because they haven’t repaired them since the last time,” Josef Mlejnek told Czech TV as he toured by motor boat the village of Horin, at the confluence of the swollen Vltava and Elbe rivers.

And in the northern city of Usti nad Labem where the Elbe spilled over flood defences into the city before peaking early Thursday, voluntary firefighters ran out of money for diesel and were relying on local donations. [more]

Germany, Hungary scramble to repel flood surges


Some stacked shipping containers in Saxony, Germany, on 6 June 2013 remain dry while others become partially submerged as waters from the Elbe River continue to rise. According to the BBC, officials in this German state have warned that the current flooding may exceed record levels from 2002. Photo: Thomas Peter / Reuters

By FRANK JORDANS Associated Press
6 June 2013

BERLIN (AP) – The crest of the flood-swollen Danube River surged toward the Hungarian capital of Budapest on Friday, while communities along the Elbe in Germany braced for high water as the river churned toward the North Sea.

Elsewhere in central Europe, communities were beginning to count the cost of devastating floods that have hit Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, and the Czech Republic.

At least 19 people have died over the past week, and experts say the economic damage in Germany alone could top €11 billion ($14.59 billion).

The Danube's crest left Austria on Friday and entered Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orban warned that water levels were above the all-time highs.

"It is now certain that we must face the largest-ever flood on the Danube, so we must be prepared for the worst," Orban said in the western city of Gyor, on the Danube.

The Danube crest was expected to reach Budapest on Monday, and Mayor Istvan Tarlos said that in a worst-case scenario up to 55,000 people may need to be evacuated. But he was confident that only the lowest-lying areas of the city would be exposed to the Danube's expanded flow.

Tarlos said the Danube was expected to rise to around 8.95 meters (31 feet) in the downtown area, while the walls along the river and temporary defenses would be able to keep out waters rising to as much as 9.3 meters (30.5 feet).

Farther upstream in Hungary, about 900 people had to leave their homes because of the flood.

In neighboring Slovakia, the situation was critical in the border city of Komarno where the Danube was still rising and was expected to do so till Saturday. Rescuers, soldiers and volunteers have been filling sand bags to reinforce protective barriers.

In the Czech Republic, the government's central crisis committee ordered local authorities to leave all flood protection measures in place because meteorologists have forecast a risk of heavy rains for the next few days and the situation might get worse again.

"The flooding is not over yet," Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas. [more]

Budapest Prepares for Floods as Danube Waters Rise


A Humboldt penguin at the Prague Zoo gets an interesting view from his tank as waters from the Vltava River continue to rise, 6 June 2013. Officials have estimated that the zoo has now sustained more than 160 million koruna ($8.1 million) in damages, according to CNN. Photo: Katerina Sulova / CTK / Zuma Press

By Pablo Gorondi reporting from Budapest, Hungary, and Karel Janicek from Prague, Czech Republic
8 June 2013

BERLIN (Associated Press) – More than 80,000 emergency personnel including firefighters and soldiers were on duty Saturday, working aggressively to contain the most dramatic floods in Germany in a decade. Thousands of residents were still unable to return to their homes, and bridges and streets were impassable in many regions of eastern and southern Germany.

Twenty people reportedly have already died in the floods across central Europe after several days of heavy rains. Thousands have been put up in emergency shelters waiting for the waters to recede so they can get back to their homes.

German news agency dpa said people in Magdeburg in Saxony-Anhalt were anxiously waiting downstream as the crest of the Elbe river approached Saturday. Authorities evacuated a nursing home and turned off electricity in several parts of the city. Where the Saale river meets the Elbe, about 3,000 people had to leave their homes.

“The coming days will be extreme and difficult,” Magdeburg’s mayor, Lutz Truemper, told news agency dpa.

High water levels were also reported in Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, while thousands of people in Austria were busy shoveling away mud left by the receding floodwaters of the Danube.

In Hungary, around 2,000 residents of the town of Gyorujfalu northwest of the capital of Budapest were evacuated because authorities were afraid the levees wouldn’t withstand the pressure of the Danube’s waters. Another 980 residents had to leave their homes along the river out of precaution.

Hundreds of volunteers and military personnel were helping shore up the defenses along the Danube in Szentendre, a town 14 miles (22 kilometers) north of Budapest, while military reservists from other Hungarian counties filled sandbags and packed them on top of walls along the river, which was expected to peak here on Sunday at about 16 inches (40 centimeters) above its current record of 25 feet (7.60 meters).

A 330 yards (meters) long and about 2.5 yards (meters) tall mobile flood wall was assembled in eight hours alongside the river promenade in the town earlier this week and is protecting its picturesque center.

“After the floods of 2002 and 2006, the promenade wall became very weak and we decided to tear it down,” said Ferenc Dietz, Szentendre’s mayor. “We decided to put up a mobile flood wall, in part because it provides total security.”

The rising waters of the Danube, Europe’s biggest river, were expected to reach Budapest on Monday. The water levels were already at 28.2 feet (8.60 meters) on Saturday and expected to rise to 29.4 feet (8.95 meters) at the peak of the flood — inching close up to the top of the river’s flood fences, which are 30.5 feet (9.30 meters) tall. In one of the most devastating floods, in 1838, the Danube killed 150 people and left over 50,000 others homeless. [more]

Floods in central Europe continue to create havoc with crest expected in Germany’s Magdeburg

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