2002: The year of the most devastating floods in modern Czech history

Floods of 2002 | Photo: Effenberger, Panoramio, CC BY-SA 3.0

It has been raining for days and the Czech Institute of Hydrometeorology has warned of more rain. Southern Bohemia was hit by a storm with heavy rainfall, and already flooded river basins could not take in any more water.

On July 7th, the first rivers started flooding in southern Bohemia. A catastrophe unlike anything the current generation had ever experienced was approaching. A great flood hits southern Bohemia and reaches Germany.

The flood changed life in the capital

Floods of 2002 | Photo: Tomáš Adamec, Czech Radio

In Prague, the river flooded after a week, flowing with over 5,000 cubic meters of water per second. Water resource managers say it’s the worst flood in 500 years. Parts of the city were without electricity, and subway services were also suspended. 50,000 people were evacuated and buildings such as the Statistics Office and the National Library were submerged.

The flood had dire consequences for the zoo. A gorilla and two Liberian hippos drowned. Several animals, including lions and bears, have been euthanized due to rising water levels. Zoo officials had to evacuate a total of 1,010 animals.

Floods of 2002 | Photo: Metly Archive

Gaston, the zoo’s sea lion, became a media sensation after arriving in Germany after fleeing the flooded Vltava and Elbe rivers. Despite the efforts of veterinarians, he died of exhaustion.

The floods in Prague got the most attention, but small villages such as Metly na Strakonicku and Zálezlice na Mělnicku have all but disappeared from the map. In these villages, structural damage caused him to demolish 40 houses.

The devastating floods claimed 17 lives and caused damage worth 73 billion crowns.

Floods of 2002 | Photo: ZOO Prague

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