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VILLAGES IN THE SMALL CARPATHIANS ARE INUNDATED

Flash flood strikes

MANY people lost practically everything they owned after a flood wave swept through several villages lying just below Červený Kameň Castle in the Small Carpathians on the evening of June 8. Several other nearby villages were left without drinking water, electricity and gas by the heavy rains.

MANY people lost practically everything they owned after a flood wave swept through several villages lying just below Červený Kameň Castle in the Small Carpathians on the evening of June 8. Several other nearby villages were left without drinking water, electricity and gas by the heavy rains.

Slovak media reported that the village of Píla suffered the most devastation from the floodwaters. The village, home to about 300 people, is situated in a narrow valley only several dozen metres wide. The massive flood wave came as a surprise to the residents, after a fairly brief thunderstorm in the mountains, but it swept away cars and destroyed many gardens as well as homes. The village was left without electricity, drinking water and natural gas.

Bridges across the small and normally tranquil local brook, the Gidra, were also destroyed as it was turned into a raging torrent by water cascading down from the mountains.

“We are removing the consequences of the disaster, but it is going very slowly,” Radoslav
Mičúnek, the mayor of Píla, told the Sme daily, adding that dozens of residents were affected by the floodwaters.


Bad construction decisions?


Martin Kováč, the government plenipotentiary for self-government and integrated river basin management and landscape, criticised what he called poor decisions by municipal authorities in undertaking past construction activities in some of these villages.

“Píla constantly kept narrowing down the banks [of the brook] in the village and in Častá the water stream was covered and laid in a pipe under the freshly reconstructed square,” Kováč said, as quoted by Sme.

Kováč added that the villages will need to remove or repair the inappropriate water drainage systems, open up the streams that were covered within the villages, and give space for overflowing water to drain away more freely. Renovations to the village square in Častá were completed less than a year ago, in autumn 2010. The project cost €830,000 and was mostly covered by EU funds. The mayor of Častá, Stanislav Jablonovský, denied that the design of the modified square was to blame and had contributed to damage in the town.

“The basin was calculated sufficiently,” Jablonovský told Sme. “The project designer from the water utility who calculated it said that brooks like this are usually calculated only for 100-year floodwaters.”

Jablonovský added that experts who visited the village after the flood disaster said that the wave of water in this case was much higher than that level.

“Even if the duct was three times bigger it wouldn’t have helped,” the mayor said. “The water had already spilled out in the forest and flew out of control already from there.”


Damages not yet assessed

As The Slovak Spectator went to press, the villages had not yet started to calculate the financial damage caused by the disaster, but were waiting for streets, gardens and homes to dry out. But Oliver Solga, the mayor of Pezinok, the district town, granted €6,000 to three of the villages in the district hit hardest by the floodwaters – Píla, Častá and Doľany.

The speaker of the Slovak parliament, Richard Sulík, offered shelter to about 30 families in parliament’s recreational facility in Častá- Papiernička, near the flooded areas. But homeless residents apparently did not take advantage of his offer and the media reported that most of the families were staying with relatives in other villages or towns.

The villages of Dlhá, Borová, Vištuk, Budmerice, Štefanová and Dubová, in addition to Častá, Píla, and Doľany, also lost drinking water, electricity and gas supplies. Altogether, about 9,000 residents were thought to be affected.

Bratislavská Vodárenská Spoločnosť (BVS), the local water utility, was providing substitute water supplies from tanks. Electricity services had been restored but Ivana Zelizňáková, the spokesperson for SPP, said that restoring gas might take several weeks as supply pipelines needed repair. Rainy weather continued across nearly all of Slovakia on June 9 and another strong storm hit several areas in Bratislava Region, including the capital city itself, in the early hours.

Firefighters worked in the city’s western districts, Karlova Ves, Lamač and Dúbravka, to help remove excess rainwater from the streets.

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