Flood danger chases people away
Floods resulting from a week of heavy rain affected this peaceful riverside town of 32,000 in western Slovakia more than any other in the country, with thousands of people evacuating their homes.
At about 4:30 in the morning of July 10, the army in cooperation with the police got people from their beds and transported them to the nearby village of Vrbové, where the Váh River's threat was not serious. By 10 a.m., 160 soldiers navigated about 20,000 Piešťany residents to safe haven, leaving behind an empty town.
In the town, all stores were closed except a café owned by Eduard Kukuli, who did not trust the weather forecasters. "I will stay here as long as possible. I will close the café only if it is really necessary," Kukuli said.
In the meantime, the patients from Piešťany hospital were moved to surrounding towns. People spent the whole day in Vrbové, listening to fearful news that the raging Váh could tear down the dam near town. Predictions said that had that happened, the Váh would have reached 2.3 meters in some of the town's streets.
Jozef Sabo, the mayor of Vrbové, tried to help as much as possible, ordering stores to stay open until midnight, so that people could buy groceries. In the evening, however, the Central Flood Commission decided that the danger had passed, and it allowed people to return to their homes.
Kayaker is flood's first victim
An over-flooded creek in this village of 1,300 in central Slovakia promised a great adventure for two kayakers, 45 and 42 years old, respectively. On July 7, they decided to canoe on this small creek near Nové Mesto nad Váhom. Their home-made canoe reportedly flipped over after several meters, and the two men tried to get out of the water. The 45-year old made it to the bank and waited for his friend. For naught.
The police recovered his body after a four-day search. A representative of the mayor's office in Bošáca said that the creek was not in such bad condition on Monday, but that the men were not smart to use a home-made canoe to brave the water.
Statues of Tiso and Hlinka erected
This village of 1,060 in western Slovakia unveiled a memorial to Jozef Tiso, the controversial president of the Slovak War State, and Andrej Hlinka, the founder of a namesake party that became infamous after his death. Around 500 people gathered in front of the new monument on July 6 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Tiso's death. Both statues are 2 meters high.
The mayor of Nitra, Vladimír Libant said in his speech at the ceremony, that "the sculptor accomplished what so many artists were not able to do for their beloved president." The village paid for the statues, and is expecting to have more in the future. "We would like to have a little Slovakia in our village," Libant added. "We are also planning to place here sculptures of Milan Rastislav Štefánik and Martin Rázus."
The Democratic Party in Nitra reacted with a statement on July 9, saying that it is strongly against glorifying the Slovak wartime president.
The Slovak Anti-fascist Association made a similar statement, asking that the Tiso statue be removed, citing his participation in the deportation of Jews during World War II.
Kremnica may see gold rush again
In the first week of July, Kremnica Gold a.s., a geological research company, discovered a great source of gold in the old mining areas around this small town of 7,100 in central Slovakia.
In the 14th and 15th centuries, Kremnica was the greatest source of gold and the biggest coin producer in the Hungarian empire. Mining ceased early in this century due to depleted deposits. The company suggested that the mining could start here again, depending on how much gold is in the ore. If they find it suitable for mining, they will have to look for ecological ways to mine in this historically precious area.
Compiled by Andrea Lörinczová from press reports.
17. Jul 1997 at 0:00