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Flooded-Out Czechs Are Allowed to Return Home

Europe: Thousands leave shelters after areas around Prague reopen. Others must stay put.

September 04, 2002|From Associated Press

PRAGUE, Czech Republic — Thousands of residents of the Czech capital moved out of shelters and went home Tuesday, more than three weeks after the worst flooding in nearly 200 years forced their evacuation.

Authorities reopened parts of Prague's low-lying Karlin district, which was hit hard last month by flood waters of the Vltava River. Thousands of other Prague residents, however, were ordered to remain in shelters while emergency workers checked for hazards, said Martin Kupka, a city hall spokesman.

Three apartment buildings collapsed in Karlin because of water damage, and 40 buildings have been declared at risk. Experts warned that more houses in the area might be declared uninhabitable.

The floods that struck the Czech Republic last month caused $2.9 billion in damage, and authorities estimate that at least 5,000 new apartments will have to be built for people who lost their homes.

Floods also forced the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra to move Saturday's season opening concert from its usual hall near the Vltava to the Prague Castle, which is on higher ground.

Vaclav Riedlbauch, orchestra manager, estimated damage to equipment at the Rudolfinum concert hall at more than $3.8 million.

U.S. Embassy workers, meanwhile, provided equipment to dry out walls in the town of Terezin, 35 miles north of Prague.

The town, site of a former Nazi concentration camp, was damaged by the floods. The equipment was donated by the Czech branch of Schaumburg, Ill.-based Motorola Inc. and is worth about $10,000.

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