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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Mud, Fear As Deluge Starts Anew

Combined Reports


OLOMOUC, Czech Republic -- The worst flood of the century has deposited a thick blanket of mud in some houses dotting the flat, fertile plains of the eastern Czech Republic -- and washed away entire neighborhoods.


A clutch of Olomouc residents stared mournfully at clean-up crews shoveling away what many had spent a lifetime building. One marveled that of his entire house, only the front door remained.


For 10 days, rivers swollen by heavy rainfall have spilled over their banks, killing at least 38 people in the Czech Republic and 48 in neighboring Poland. Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated, and hundreds of towns and villages damaged by the torrents of brown water.


Most of those evacuated from their homes in the Czech Republic have returned and are starting to dig out from under the flood's debris. But heavy rains had already begun to fall Friday, with more predicted over the weekend, and experts warn that streams and rivers could rise swiftly.


Cloudbursts battered Austria as well Friday, putting wide areas of the country on flood alert as swollen rivers rose to the tops of their banks.


In Germany, the Oder River spilled out and submerged streets in the border city of Frankfurt an der Oder, 90 kilometers east of Berlin. A 160-kilometer dike, reinforced overnight by sandbags, was holding, preventing more serious flooding. No evacuations were ordered. However, across the river in Slubice, on the Polish side, police began evacuating the city's 17,000 residents, fearing shortages of food and drinking water.


In Olomouc, a picturesque town of 100,000 some 250 kilometers east of Prague, some neighborhoods remained under water Thursday.


"May the devil take us all! I don't care anymore," Sylva Sevcikova cried in front of her house, where the water reached the two-meter mark several days earlier and had not yet receded.


Heaps of junk were piled in front of apartment houses near downtown Olomouc, where residents have already started cleaning up. The receding water left waist-high black marks on every house and tons of mud and filth inside.


"I'm scared of epidemics," said Jirina Velcovska, pointing at piles of drenched furniture and home appliances.


Downstream from Olomouc, the landscape resembled a battlefield, with several villages virtually wiped out.


In downtown Prerov, an industrial town of 50,000, not a single house escaped the catastrophe. The smell of fish hung in the air while rescue parties tried to clean up the streets. "The water has stopped just inches from our windows," said Daniela Furthnerova, who lives in a second-floor apartment. "All that's left from our neighbors' apartment are bare walls covered with thick layers of mud. " ()