Floods - spring 2006

The disaster

Heavy floods have been inundating central and eastern Europe since the end of March due to melting snow and heavy rainfall. Swollen rivers and floodwaters have caused widespread damage and forced thousands of people across central and eastern Europe to leave their homes.

Situation in Austria

The level of the River Danube in Austria and of many rivers to the north of the country was critical over the weekend of 1 April. Some 250 households were affected. Austria also reported dam failures and the disruption of rail connections. The Austrian response to the floods included the fire brigade, medical and paramedical services, the military, police, local authorities and others. No international assistance was requested.

Situation in Bulgaria

In Bulgaria, the floods affected 23 localities. A state of emergency was declared in seven regions along the Danube. Over 1000 households, a handful of schools and a hospital were had flooded. The damage also counted some 700km of roads and a total of over 55,000 hectares of farmland among others. The Bulgarian authorities undertook a number of actions to mitigate the effects of the floods. No causalities were reported. Dykes were watched round the clock while pumping activities and epidemic prevention measures were undertaken. People in cut-off villages and all evacuees were provided with drinking water, food and other necessary commodities. The emergency situation in the affected regions along the Danube riverbanks was cancelled on 10 May 2006. Bulgaria's request for assistance.

Photo gallery for Bulgaria floods

Situation in the Czech Republic

A state of emergency was declared for the whole area of the South Moravian department and consequently came into force in parts of the following departments: South Czech, Middle Czech, Olomouc, Pardubice, Ústí and Zlín. Five towns were evacuated. Some 4200 persons had to leave their homes. Five people were confirmed dead. Flood emergency situations were announced by half of the country's 14 regional authorities. No international assistance was requested.

Click here to view satellite images of the floods in the Czech Republic.

Situation in Germany

In Germany a state of emergency was declared in five communities and about 1000 people were evacuated from Dresden and Meissen. Affected regions along the Elbe River included Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Niedersachsen Brandenburg and Sachsen Anhalt. Water levels were expected to be higher than in 2002 and to remain high for several days. No international assistance was requested.

Click here to view satellite images of the floods in Germany.

Situation in Hungary

An emergency situation was declared in Hungary on 3 April 2006. The Hungarian authorities took the necessary preparedness measures. The level of the River Danube rose to 861cm in the early hours of 5 April. This is the third highest level ever recorded (867cm in 1876 and 848 cm in 2002). The two isles of the River Danube were closed. A shipping embargo was enforced all over the Hungarian section of the Danube. Waters began to subside by 23 April.

Hungary reported that its second largest river, the Tisza, reached a record level of 9.8 metres on 18 April, threatening some 160,000 people and over 50,000 homes. The Hungarian government extended a flood emergency to Hungary's three Koros rivers to the southeast of the country.

Disaster management, civil protection, water management, police agencies, fire-brigades, local governments were taking part in the emergency operations involving almost 23,000 people. Hungary's request for assistance.

Situation in Poland

Heavy rain flooded some 23,000 hectares in Poland, mainly comprising meadows, forests and agricultural areas situated along rivers. A small amount of people were evacuated. 250 fire units were involved in the overall response. No international assistance was requested.

Situation in Romania

The increase of the Danube's level in Romania flooded 12 counties. As of 5 May, over 5,000 households were damaged, had collapsed or flooded. The damage also counted some 500km of roads; around 255 bridges and a total of over 80,000 hectares of farmland and grazing fields. Romanian officials said the Danube reached double its average volume for this time of year, flowing at a record 15,900 cubic meters/second. Over 15,000 people were evacuated from their homes. Romania's request for assistance.

Situation in Slovakia

Two people died in Slovakia where river levels were initially critical. The risk appeared to ease off after some days. Nevertheless, a state of emergency was declared on 1 April at Trtice in the south-west of the country after the Cierna Voda River reached a dangerous level. The central and western regions of the Slovak Republic were also affected. Preventive measures were taken to avoid large-scale floods, with the situation stabilising itself following 4 April. Slovakia's request for assistance.

Request for and provision of assistance

The MIC had been monitoring the situation as of 30 March 2006. It was in constant dialogue with the countries potentially at risk.

Bulgaria requested assistance through the mechanism on 25 April 2006. The original request for assistance included high capacity pumps and hoses; draining equipment for flooded dwellings; disinfectants, anti-mould latex and sandbags. Bulgaria received sandbags from Austria, Denmark, Poland and Slovenia. Belgium provided a pumping module which includes 2 specialised pumps and a 10-person team. A MIC liaison officer was selected from the team. The request for assistance was closed on 10 May.

Romania requested assistance on 21 April 2006. It required high and medium capacity water pumps, boats, water purification units, waterproof suits, life vests, waterproof coats, disinfectants and sandbags. Offers poured in that same afternoon. Within a couple of days, sandbags were provided by Austria, Denmark, Germany and Slovenia. A number of vaccines for various diseases and disinfectants were supplied by Belgium and Germany. Pumps were supplied by Austria and Slovakia. Electrical equipment and power generators were provided by Austria, Slovakia and Sweden. The Netherlands made a financial contribution, while Slovakia also offered waterproof gear. Romania closed its request for assistance on 19 May.

Hungary requested assistance through the Community Mechanism for Civil protection on 7 April 2006. It requested sandbags, rain gear, rubber boots and spades. Within a few hours, offers of assistance were already pouring in. With a day or two Austria, Slovenia and Romania despatched sandbags. Sweden and Romania sent spades, rain gear and rubber boots. The request for assistance was closed on 10 April.

Slovakia requested assistance through the Community Mechanism for Civil protection on 3 April 2006. The request consisted of sandbags, needed to stop the advancing river waters. These were provided within hours of the request by Austria, Germany and Poland. The operation was closed on the same day.

Added value

Working through the mechanism ensured among others that all the participating states were aware of the assistance being sent to the countries in need. It also eased the flow of information on each country's emergency, thus increasing the effectiveness of response to the floodwaters. From the start of the emergency, it had already liaised with Member States on the availability of their pumps should they be needed.  In addition, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania asked the European Commission's Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) to provide satellite images through the International Charter (Space and Major Disasters). To view these images, click on the following - Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania

Photo gallery for Bulgaria floods