Almost exactly three years ago Prague made headlines around the world when the city was hit by the worst flooding in five hundred years. At the time, damage was caused to many historical structures, partly because of an inadequate anti-flood system. Since then a lot has been spent on improving that system, and it was tested for the first time at the weekend in a major operation involving all the emergency services. Michal Kopecky is the assistant of Prague's mayor - he described the new system to Martin Mikule.
"We are using mobile anti-floods obstacles; we call it Control Flood System. The system will be finished next year in June or July next year. We predict that all Prague will be covered by this system, if needed. Now I have to say that our tests involved territory which was 2500 metres long, and there were about 600 attendants. I can say that this kind of anti-flood exercise is in my opinion the largest exercise in Europe."
What did it involve and who took part in this exercise?
"Simply to say, all organizations and agencies which are part of Prague security system. First of all, rescue brigades, fire brigades and of course agencies which are associated with transportation...The main part created the voluntary fire brigades, they played the main role in construction of the anti-flood obstacles."
"It doesn't mean only to set up this wall and wait for the wave or a flood. There are also the PR activities and the information that have to be released for the citizens and for the tourists. It's not easy to inform our tourists in all the languages. Then we must prepare transportation routs for tracks, hospitals, evacuation...I am of course speaking about a real situation, we didn't evacuate anybody during this exercise. Every part has to be planned and it's not easy to describe every part."
Does the anti-flood system involve the entire city or just the city centre?
"We can say that next year Prague will be protected from floods of the scale of those in 2002 - plus thirty centimetres higher - except the parts on the south and on the north of the city. These parts cannot be protected because it would demand enormous costs and it is very difficult to protect these neighbourhoods."
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