Image source: A poor soul on Twitter, whose house seems to have remarkably tight windows
As flooding continues across Central Europe, the eastern German city of Dresden is bracing for near record high water levels. Some residents have already evacuated their homes.
Though some areas reported improved conditions, flooding continued across Europe on Wednesday, with the eastern German city of Dresden bracing for near record water levels.
Officials in the baroque city said that they expect the Elbe River to continue to swell, though it is unlikely exceed levels seen in the disastrous flood of 2002, which caused widespread damage in eastern Germany and neighboring countries. Authorities are preparing for evacuations all along the Elbe, and some residents have already been forced leave their homes in Dresden, where electricity was shut off as a precautionary measure in some places.
Northwest of Dresden, the Saale River has reached its highest level in 400 years, said officials in Halle, where volunteers are working to stabilize a weakened dam with sandbags. Flooding has also reached a critical point in nearby Dessau, which has been put on the highest level of flood alert.
In the neighboring Czech Republic, some 19,000 people have reportedly been forced to leave their homes due to the flooding. High water arrived unexpectedly quickly overnight and is expected to continue rising in the industrial city of Ústí nad Labem, according to reports. In Melnik, where the Elbe meets the Vltava River, water levels have come within just centimeters of breaching a dike, where people have been feverishly stacking sandbags to stave off the deluge. In the capital of Prague, the subway system remained closed on Wednesday due to flooding, though water levels had begun to recede. On Tuesday, officials there were also forced to evacuate the Prague Zoo and closed the famous Charles Bridge as a precaution.
Emerging from a Catastrophe
Elsewhere in Europe, flooding caused by sustained heavy rains has been reported in Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary, with the overall death toll rising to at least 10 on Tuesday.
German military troops and federal disaster workers have been called to help affected communities handle the flooding in eastern and southern regions of the country along the Elbe, the Danube and their tributaries. And on Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged €100 million ($130 million) in swift aid for those affected. The announcement came after the chancellor assessed flood damage on Tuesday in the Bavarian city of Passau, which has seen its worst flooding in some 500 years.
By Wednesday, the high water had begun to recede in the "City of Three Rivers," where residents were starting to assess the damage. "We are slowly coming out of a disaster situation to experiencing just high water instead," a city spokesperson said.
Another English-language article (with English-language video of politicians trying to capitalise on the matter without appearing to do so)
Image gallery from the West of the country - the Rhine has the "normal" flooding we often get in Spring, which might look alarming but is really mostly a traffic hindrance.
Image gallery from the East and South, where the flooding is much more extreme and has grown since many of those photos were made. Contains baby rabbits (they're quite safe from the water, don't worry)
It looks absolutely terrifying in many German regions, and it's almost a miracle that the death toll has been so low, particularly as there have been reports of people not taking things seriously enough. There have been cases of people absolutely refusing to leave their houses when asked to evacuate and then calling for emergency rescue when they realised that they could not in fact stop the floods, or of people trying to use roads that were marked as unsafe. One woman drowned when riding her bicycle over a flooded street that had been shut down, as she fell and was pulled into the river by the current.
Dams have broken near a small Bavarian town. We used to go there on holiday a lot - it's awful not even to be able to recognise the landscape features, and to see houses where only the roofs now look out of the water.
So far they haven't even tried to estimate the financial damages. The 2002 floods seem to have cost something between 11 and 15 billion €. This one is worse in a number of regions, and in addition to the direct destruction, it has hit agriculture, tourism, and industrial production quite hard.