After July's tropical heat most people welcomed the first August showers with relief. But several days of persistent rain have produced a different problem - a wave of floods which started on the exact same date as the devastating floods of 2002.
It is hard to believe that just ten days ago people were scanning the horizon in the hope of seeing rain clouds. Rain has been pouring down for days and the first sign of trouble was the hurried evacuation of several summer camps. People living close to the river in the north and south were on alert, filling sandbags and erecting makeshift barriers. On Monday the crisis came to a head. The mountain resort of Spindleruv Mlyn in the north of the country was cut off from the world for several hours after water from the Elbe spilled out over roads and meadows. This was partly due to the fact that emergency crews were re-channeling water in order to protect the inhabited areas as much as possible. Oldrich Simek is the town's mayor:
"The situation worsened on Monday morning when we called a state of high alert. An emergency flood team was coordinating emergency work - closing off roads and re-directing traffic, helping the town's inhabitants pump water from their homes. In one part of town some high voltage electricity wires were left unprotected on the public lighting system, elsewhere we had to battle with mud-slides. The torrent even swept away the lower part of one of the ski-runs. Everyone was helping - firefighters, the police, volunteers and the ski resort's emergency crew which was delivering sandbags to anyone who asked for them. We were on our feet until 4 am keeping things under control and monitoring the water level."
Spindleruv Mlyn - and other towns affected in the north and south of the country - are now over the worst. It has finally stopped raining and water levels are receding. But as clean-up operations get underway people are keeping a close eye on the sky - and in many towns sandbag barriers remain in place - just to be on the safe side. The ever-present threat of floods is something they have come to accept. When the water level reached this same point in 1997 - the inhabitants of Spindleruv Mlyn spoke of "the worst flood in over a century". Now many feel they've been let off lightly.
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