June 23, 2024

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Climate change clamor in the Czech Republic: from floods to hurricanes | future planet

“Our Maracana is the first to be flooded,” says the mayor of Usti, a small town of half a thousand inhabitants in the eastern part of the Czech Republic, with a certain joke. He says that the first target of the waters of the Bečva River when it rains and floods is the adjacent target green meadows, referred to by the same name as the legendary Brazilian stadium. Libor Vikupal, born 61 years ago and raised in an exposed house on the river bank, was an activist rather than a politician. The great 1997 floods brought him down as a bus driver for a company in Brno, the second city in the country and the capital of the Moravian region. But in 1998 he was elected deputy mayor, a part-time position, and in 2002 he became a full-time mayor.

You don’t have to travel to Asia, Africa or America to check out global warming effects. Ads go anywhere. “Now the people of Europe can understand the meaning of climate change,” warns Robert Stoyanov, a scientist at Mendel University in Brno, noting not only what is happening in his country, the Czech Republic, but also disasters such as the latter. Floods in Germany I will go Mediterranean fires.

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“It’s calm water. It’s not like big waves are coming in,” explains 70-year-old Frantisek Lukas, a resident of Usti, noting that they’re not tsunami victims. He turned and raised his arm as high as he could, showing the plaque on the front of his house indicating to the height that the water reached in 1997 in the streets that were navigable for several days.” But we have floods every year. We are used to it,” he admits in front of the live broadcast as he continues to live. There, some workers are working on building a ramp that allows access to the canal for a machine that can remove twigs, sediment with rain, and water that descends from the mountains towards the Peeva River. “I was born here and hope to die. Here”.

Frantisek Lukas, 70, a resident of Usti, in front of the canal that runs in front of his house.  He says:
Frantisek Lukas, 70, a resident of Usti, in front of the canal that runs in front of his house. “I was born here and I hope to die here,” he says.Ó SCAR CORRAL / EL PAÍS

Although the Rain claimed 50 lives in the eastern Czech Republic in 1997, Excess water is not measured in deaths in Osti. But it is an issue the neighbors are well aware of. Ladislav Lukas, now 78, found that 24 years ago in July the surplus was greater than usual. After a month they had to leave their house permanently near the river. Thanks to an agreement with the city council, they replaced their land in the lower part with one located up the hill. During the construction of the new house, they were housed for four years in a municipal house. Today, in Lukas chalet, the lower part is only for a garage, and the sloping plot is ready to drain when it rains. “The flood served a purpose. It made us escape from the river and here we are, happy,” Trench said.

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Although this family never had to travel more than a few hundred meters from their original place of residence, for Robert Stoyanov, who specializes in the environment and population movements, this is a case of climate refugees. “Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent across Europe,” he says, “and this can be seen as an effect of climate change.”

“Global warming is, at least in part, caused by human activities,” Stoyanov adds, noting that “our way of life and consumption” is linked to “our agricultural and industrial production.” “What can we do? I think the first thing is to adapt, because it is already too late to just mitigate the impact.” “So we stop adding carbon dioxide from Fossil fuels In the atmosphere, the greenhouse effect will continue,” according to Jan Holan, a member of “Chicglobe” (the Institute for Global Change Research of the Czech Academy of Sciences). Hulan paints a bleak outlook for decades to come. “We know for sure” that when these are stopped The types of fuels, “In 20 or 30 years, the greenhouse effect will stop” and “Europe will calm down a bit.” Like Stoyanov, he advocates changing our consumption habits and betting on renewable energy.

In Trobke, another village on the banks of the Piva River, the 1997 floods brought even worse consequences. A plaque in front of City Hall commemorates the nine dead in a town of 2,035, which also lost 388 of the 750 homes. Today, the method of construction has changed. Bricks are used more and the first floor is usually raised, says Radek Prazda, mayor since 2005. But “people are afraid when it rains,” he says.

retaining walls

Members of local councils in the area now have a mobile alert system that allows them to warn residents in advance, explains Libor Vikopal on the banks of the Bečva River as it passes through Usti. There, work is progressing to build retaining walls to stop flooding. The works are scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2022. Its budget is 151 million CZK (about six million euros) paid in full by the European Union. “We think there will be no more disasters,” the first mayor expects, satisfied, a few meters away from the local Maracana amid the noise of drilling machines.

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Residents of Usti, next to the retaining wall, work on the banks of the Bečva . River
Residents of Usti, next to the retaining wall, work on the banks of the Bečva . RiverÓ SCAR CORRAL / EL PAÍS

But the reality shows that prediction is dangerous. Nature struck the final blow in the Czech Republic this summer, just a hundred kilometers south of Usti and Trubki. The calling card this time was a hurricane. Within a few minutes, a rampaging air column killed six people and destroyed five villages on the afternoon of June 24 in the Hadunen region, along the Slovak border.

Jan Holland in the midst of the devastation explains: “The weather is getting harsher, he’s acting like he’s on steroids” because a hurricane like this “no one has seen in the Czech Republic,” explains Jan Holland in the midst of the devastation. Essentially, he adds, “this was expected” and “will get worse until we stop climate change” “Global Warming”.

To reduce it, “there should be a ban on aid to fossil fuels that ensures reduced emissions and boosts the economy with clean solutions,” suggests Marcel Kollaga, MEP from the Green Group and Vice-President of the European Parliament. “We also need to establish an independent scientific council to monitor whether the EU is on the right track to achieve its goals,” adds Kolaja of the Czech Pirate Party.

Moraviska Nova Ves neighbors continue to rebuild their homes a month after Hurricane June
Moraviska Nova Ves neighbors continue to rebuild their homes a month after Hurricane JuneÓ SCAR CORRAL / EL PAÍS

A month later, the damage is still visible and dozens of neighbors, volunteers from all over the country and the military are still in the swamp. Covered in a straw hat, the mayor of Moravska Nova Ves, with a population of 2,600, is one of those who live exclusively to try to restore normalcy. Although there was only one death, “it seems funny now, but it is a miracle that no more people have died,” says Marek Coust, 40, in the midst of the bustle, as the stone head of Saint Joseph, whose Their headless picture is still looking down the main road. Next to it, a box with license plates for cars that appeared. Some of them are cars from other municipalities.

“We need more tools for rapid intervention” in the face of climate extremes, says Ernst Ortason (Catalonia en Como), vice president of the Greens Group in the European Parliament, a foundation that funded the trip to the Czech Republic for this purpose. Report. He believes that both the Commission and the European Union should get involved in more aid money because, for example, 30,000 million people have left to deal with the floods in West Germany Berlin.

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In front of Konstorius Moravska Nova Ves, the four clocks froze in the tower of the Santiago church at 7:20 p.m. It was the same time when everyone saw with astonishment how the uncontrolled vortex of air sucked everything in its path and shot at him. The cars, the trees, the roofs, the statues, the animals, the tombstones in the cemetery…a horror movie that some dared to record with their mobile phones. Photos of Michel Haloushi, a 42-year-old construction worker, They’ve gone viral on the internet.

“He took all the doors with their frames, which led to the windows being taken out.”

Vera Zhugarkova, a neighbor of Hruski who lost her home in Hurricane June

Urtasun insists that his group, with their sights set on Climate Summit (COP26) November in Glasgow, he will go on to remind that the goals of European climate law must be more ambitious despite the fact that At the end of last year, it was announced that the emissions reduction target had been reduced from 40% to 55%.. “You have to run more,” he claims. For this, he believes that increasing renewable energy is essential, increasing energy efficiency in buildings, reforming emissions trading or improving the CAP, which “takes up between 40 and 45% of the community budget” and makes “huge investments” in agribusiness.

Vera Zhugarkova, 57, in the town of Hrusky, next to the crater where her house was, was badly damaged by the cyclone and had to be completely demolished
Vera Zhugarkova, 57, in the town of Hrusky, next to the crater where her house was, was badly damaged by the cyclone and had to be completely demolishedÓ SCAR CORRAL / EL PAÍS

At the end of July, much of the town of Hruski, with a population of 1,600, remained a devastated sight. The mayor, Jana Filippovichova, 50, is trying to console Vera Zhugarkova, a 57-year-old animal husbandry expert, next to the pit that occupied her home and which she finally had to demolish after the damage. A total of 63 houses out of 550 in the municipality were completely destroyed and 250 were damaged.

Zhugarkova remembers the hurricane with her disabled mother in bed, crying and slurring her words. “I started throwing things at her… blankets, pillows, diaper bags and asked her to pray. I got down on my knees and prayed before the image of the Virgin Mary.” The woman recounts a six-minute speech in which she recalls in detail what happened on June 24. The hurricane “fell on the house, and broke the windows. There were flying bricks, flying tiles, big pieces of glass and dirt.” “He took all the doors with their frames, which knocked out the windows.”

Scientist Robert Stoyanov, listening enthusiastically to it, tries to put into context the testimony of a neighbor: “No one here thought about hurricanes. Perhaps they saw them in Hollywood movies.” “You have to remember it,” Zugarkova insists. “And keep nature in our minds and treat it with a little humility.”

A policeman near the wreckage of a hurricane piled up on the outskirts of Hrusky.
A policeman near the wreckage of a hurricane piled up on the outskirts of Hrusky.Ó SCAR CORRAL / EL PAÍS

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