The acting mayor of Prague, Tomáš Hudeček, on Monday called off a state of emergency for the Czech capital, more than a week after emergency measures were introduced. A flood alert is still in place for the city, although water levels and flow rate have gone down considerably over the weekend. Due to heavy rain on Sunday and expected rain in the first half of the week, the water level in the Vltava River may not go down as quickly as originally expected.
A former employee of the ABL security agency, formerly owned by Public Affairs leader Vít Bárta, was in possession of illegally acquired records of phone calls made by a manager at the company CEZ, Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Monday, referring to a report by the General Inspectorate of the Security Forces. The records originated with a police officer who is currently facing abuse of power charges, the newspaper said. Representatives of the security firm, which is now called Mark2 Corporation, deny the charge. Mr. Bárta, who founded the company and ran it when the alleged transgressions took place, served as a government minister before his party Public Affairs became involved in a number of scandals and was forced into the opposition.
Flood-relate damages to the agriculture sector are estimated to be at least 1.8 billion crowns, according to the Czech Agrarian Chamber. The overall figure could be much higher since the estimate does not include losses to the fishing industry. In 2002, farmers around the Czech Republic suffered damages of more than 3.5 billion crowns. Some 55 thousand hectares of land were flooded in the past week, which most of all affecting vegetable growers. Many farmers were getting ready to harvest many of their crops, which are now effectively destroyed. This will most likely cause prices of local produce to rise this year.
As water recedes in most places that were flooded during the past week, volunteers are beginning to help with the clean-up efforts. A number of humanitarian NGOs are coordinating hundreds of volunteers who are helping clean up homes and public spaces that were damaged by water. People are also making donations to special emergency drives that the organizations have set up to aid with the relief efforts and help those affected. Charities and NGOs have so far collected at least 25 million crowns.
President Miloš Zeman met with the chairwoman of the European Trade Union Confederation Bernadette Ségol on Monday and voiced his support for the confederation’s proposal for a single EU-wide corporate tax of 25 percent. Prime Minister Petr Nečas strongly disagreed with the president’s position and said that his government is against the harmonization of direct taxation. President Zeman also agreed with the trade union confederation on progressive taxation, and the need to increase investment that could create jobs as well as the introduction of a guaranteed minimum wage across the European Union countries.
The police on Monday confirmed an 11th flood victim. A 50-year-old man fell into the river Otava near a campsite in the town of Sušice in southwest Bohemia on Sunday night. Rescue services found his body in the morning eight kilometers downstream near the town Rabí na Klatovksu. Four people are still missing as a result of last week’s flooding, mostly as a result of boating accidents. On Monday, the Central Crisis Committee introduced a ban on boating on any body of water where high flood alerts have been issued, under threat of up to a 20,000-crown fine.
A fresh wave of heavy rain is prolonging the flood situation in the Czech Republic. Storms on Sunday caused minor flash floods and the inundation of a small number of homes in several regions. The forecast is for more persistent rain between now and early on Tuesday and local authorities have been ordered to keep flood defences in place. Flooding, which has been particularly bad in North Bohemia, began about a week ago. Floodwater contaminated 80 public waterways, 9000 wells and dozens of water treatment plants. Some 34,000 people still have to get drinking water from outside of their homes.
Czech Radio’s Vltava station will place recordings of the first volume of The Good Soldier Švejk on their website. Responding to enormous interest from their listeners in the audio adaptation of Jaroslav Hašek’s classic, the station decided to make the recording by the famous Czech actor Oldřich Kaiser available for a longer period of time than the normal week. The Švejk readings, which first aired in May, will be on the station’s website from 10 June to 30 July.
The Ministry of Agriculture is planning to submit an amendment that should prevent massive flood-related damages in the future. One of the things that Minister Petr Bendl plans to propose is that no buildings would be allowed to be built in flood zones. He also told the press on Monday that more efforts should be made to regularly clean river basins, in order to allow better drainage of the rivers. The ministry is still working on the full text of the draft amendment
Water levels on the Vltava and Labe rivers, which became swollen last week
after heavy rainfall, are continuing to fall. However, with storms and
persistent rain due until Tuesday, the risk of flooding remains in some
parts of Bohemia. Local authorities have been ordered to keep flood
defences in place and there have been warnings that some places already
inundated could be affected again, with the saturated terrain making flash
floods a possibility.
At the same time, thousands of people evacuated last week have been returning home. Ten deaths were recorded in connection with last week’s floods and material damages have been put at billions of crowns.
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