Floods in Prague & Czech Republic
Floods: number one natural risk in Central Europe
Sometimes storms can bring strong and continuous rains in the Czech Republic, which can lead to floods. Flooding is the most significant natural risk in most parts of the Czech Republic and the neighbouring Central European countries. The highest risk of floods is in the months of June, July, and August (as a result of occasional heavy rains), but there can also be floods in early spring when snow melts in the mountains.
Prague is among the places less prone to floods, as there are several big dams on the river Vltava up the stream from Prague and one of their roles is to protect the Czech capital from floods.
The big flood of Prague in 2002
There was a big flood in 2002 in Prague said to be the worst in 200 years. Besides Prague it hit most other regions in the Czech Republic and many other countries including Germany, Poland, and Austria.
In Prague water damaged some low lying parts of the city including the Jewish Quarter in the Old Town or Kampa next to the Charles Bridge. A few houses had to be demolished after the flooding irreversibly affected their stability.
Central sections of metro lines were out of operation for several months after they were completely filled with water. Flooding killed many animals in the Prague Zoo, which is located immediately at the coast of the Vltava. A sad hero of the 2002 flood was the sea lion Gaston, who swam in the swollen waters of the Vltava from Prague Zoo to Dresden. His fight for survival was followed by people in and outside the Czech Republic on TV and he was eventually rescued in Dresden, but died of exhaustion soon after.
Today you may see little signs with the date (13th or 14th August 2002 in most cases) showing the high-water mark on some houses, in restaurants, or in metro stations.
Anti-flood protection in Prague
Following this flood measures have been taken in the city centre to prevent similar events in the future and limit the potential damage. For example it is now possible to erect an anti-flood barrier along both coasts of the river Vltava in the central parts of Prague within few hours. There is also a steel gate between the river Vltava and the small river Certovka in Kampa.