Europe Flood Threat Continues

By Jim Andrews, Senior Meteorologist
June 10, 2013, 6:05:45 AM EDT

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Historic flooding in central Europe continued to disrupt the lives of many thousands of residents on Friday.

The death toll rose to at least 17, according to the Associated Press. Financial costs were mounting with governments allotted funds equivalent to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Germany seemed to be bearing the brunt of historic flooding on the Elbe and Danube rivers, including some major tributaries.

Rescuers in helicopters pulled people from rooftops in Deggendorf, Bavaria, following dike breaches on the Danube River. The latest levee failure happened early Thursday, the AP said. Firefighter Alois Schraufstetter said the flood waters were 3 meters (about 10 feet) deep in the town, according to the BBC news website. "This is a life-threatening situation," he told the DPA news agency.

Dresden, Saxony, on the Elbe River, was anticipating the flood crest on Thursday, having had crews work through the preceding night to strengthen flood defenses.

More than 30,000 residents of Haale were urged to leave their homes after area river levels reached 400-year highs, the BBC said. The town was threatened after the swollen Saale River damaged a stretch of dyke.


Authorities failed twice in their effort to intentionally blow a levee above Bitterfeld, hoping to ease the threat to the town from the Mulde River. Finally on a third try the levee was opened relieving some of the flood threat.

In the Czech Republic, a broken barrier allowed Elbe River flood waters to invade a chemical plant north of Prague. As a precaution, workers and dangerous substances had been taken out of the factory, Reuters said Wednesday.

Elsewhere in central Europe, the Slovakia capital of Bratislava was already suffering flooding along its Danube River waterfront on Wednesday, Reuters said. An all-time high crest of 10 meters (about 33 feet) was forecast, but expectations were that flood defenses would hold.

In Budapest, Hungary, further downstream, sandbagging took place Wednesday. Some roads were closed, as was Margaret Island in the Danube. Animals in a small zoo were removed from the island, Reuters said. Water levels are expected to reach 8.85 meters (about 29 feet) which would be an all time high for the city.

Thousands of acres of croplands have been flooded which could lead to lingering problems for the region even after the flood waters recede. Loss of crops such as potatoes, turnips, corn, asparagus, strawberries, lettuce, cucumber and onions can be expected, said the state's agricultural minister, Helmut Brunner.

So companies across the worst hit areas are stepping up to help those affected by the flooding. Opel AG stated on Thursday that it would loans cars at no charge to flood victims for up to three weeks. Also Verbund, Austria's power company said it would offer two free months of power for flood victims.

Welcome dry weather covering the flood-hit region as of Thursday was expected to yield to bouts of rain Friday to Monday, forecasters said. However, no repeat of the flood-triggering extreme rainfall was foreseen.

Meteorologist Eric Leister contributed to this story.

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