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Jun 10 2013

A Few Good Reads (6/10/13): Europe’s Overwhelming Inundation from the Elbe in Germany to the Danube in Hungary

This week: Germany and Hungary slammed by flooding including Budapest, some amazing (and sad) pictures of the flooding in Europe, the East Coast hit by flash floods after Tropical Storm Andrea moves through, a levee in Louisiana is destroyed by a sinkhole after a week of tremors, and dreading the next deluge in Kansas City.

Hungary Contains Danube Flooding at German Levees Burst (Bloomberg)

Hungarian authorities are “in control” of the Danube with 20,000 people including more than 7,000 soldiers working to erect barriers, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said today on the banks of the river in the Hungarian capital. Europe’s second-longest waterway reached a record level yesterday and is now receding in the capital.

“We aren’t surrendering a single dike, we’re defending everywhere,” Orban said in remarks broadcast by state-run M1 television. Parliament will today vote on Orban’s request to extend a state of emergency.

Floods Hit Part of Budapest, as a German City Is Threatened (NY Times)

An unusually wet spring has swollen the Danube, the Elbe and several of their tributaries across Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany and Hungary, forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands of people, disrupting rail and road traffic, and causing damage that some preliminary estimates have put at several billion dollars.

The authorities in Budapest declared a state of emergency last week, anticipating that the Danube would crest at record levels in the north of the country. A proposal to extend the state of emergency was to be submitted to Parliament on Monday. The Danube peaked at 8.91 meters, or about 29 feet, Sunday night. That exceeded the record of 8.6 meters, set in 2006, but remained below the 9.3-meter flood walls protecting central Budapest…

In Germany, a dike on the Elbe River burst overnight Sunday, flooding the village of Fischbeck and forcing 1,200 people to flee their homes.

Andrea’s Flooding Rains Clobber East Coast (The Weather Channel)

After bringing rain, strong winds and tornadoes to Florida, Andrea lost most of its tropical characteristics late Friday into Saturday. But it brought record rainfall for the date of June 7 for many cities and towns in the Northeast.

Andrea dumped 6.64 inches of rain on Gales Ferry, Conn. The 4.16 inches that fell on New York City’s Central Park was more than double the previous record for the date, set in 1918. The 3.5 inches of rain that fell at Philadelphia International Airport doubled the 1.79 inches that fell in 1904. Newark, N.J., saw 3.71 inches, breaking the previous mark of 1.11 inches set in 1931.

Elsewhere, cars were submerged in floodwaters on Long Island, and about 50 residents were displaced by a rising stream in Chester, Pa. A retaining wall collapsed early Saturday in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood, sending an avalanche of rubble sliding into an apartment building and leaving three families homeless. The storm was blamed for one traffic-related death in Virginia.

A bursting dike in Klein Rosenburg, Germany.

Flooding in Europe (The Big Picture)

The Danube River reached its highest level in 500 years. The Elbe, Rhine, and other rivers and tributaries are cresting high as well as swathes of central Europe lie inundated by floodwaters that have killed 12 and displaced tens of thousands. Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic have been severely affected, as Hungary prepares for the swell of water.

When mighty Danube Floods, Europe is shaken (TwinCities.com)

Winding 2,850 kilometers (1,777 miles) across 10 nations, the Danube is the second-longest river on the continent, making its way from Germany’s Black Forest to the Black Sea bordering Romania and Ukraine. Only the Volga in Russia is longer.

In the last decade alone, the Danube has been at the center of two major floods, several devastating droughts and a winter cold snap that froze the vital waterway for hundreds of miles. Its bridges have been bombed by NATO, its waters have been temporarily poisoned by toxic chemical spills, and yet it still provides drinking water for millions.

Levee, trees sink after week of tremors at sinkhole (The Advocate)

A 400- to 500-foot section of the emergency containment levee around the Assumption Parish sinkhole disappeared under as many as 4 feet of swampland water after a nearly weeklong active period of tremors, parish officials said Tuesday.

Twenty years after the Great Flood, we dread the next deluge (Kansas City Star)

Since 1993, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has spent more than $2 billion buying flooded properties. Taxpayers spent $450,000 to buy 17 homes in Tracy, Mo., taking those structures out of flood danger.

But new building in the floodplain continues, largely unabated. A 2008 estimate put the value of new construction in 1993-flooded areas at more than $2 billion in Missouri alone, building activity that dramatically increases the potential cost of recovering from a flood. That’s a cost that might fall to taxpayers.

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