Thursday, May 27, 2010

Poland counts losses caused by flooding

Polish Market Online: Poland is experiencing the worst floods for a century. As flood waters move north toward the Baltic sea, the Polish government estimates losses caused by catastrophic flooding to be in excess of 2.5 billion euros. The two main rivers the Vistula and the Odra burst their banks in numerous places inundating huge swathes of land in southern and central regions. Thousands of residents were moved to higher ground.

…The authorities moved swiftly to organize a relief effort. In his capacity as acting president, parliamentary speaker Bronislaw Komorowski has called for quick changes to Poland’s flood relief legislation to introduce streamlined administrative procedures that will allow individual communities to more efficiently get aid to those who need it. Opposition leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski promised to champion a more effective flood prevention programme in the future.

But serious questions are being asked whether enough has been done since the last flooding in 1997 and 2001. Hydrologist Zbigniew Kundzewicz of the Polish Academy of Sciences says that spatial planning leaves a lot to be desired, both on the local and national level, what with new houses being built on floodplains that suffered flooding twice in the past 13 years: ‘Why has the flood damage grown? There are a number of reasons: due to changes in socio economic system, like land use change increasing exposure and damage potential, flood plain development, growing wealth in flood prone areas. Land use change results in land cover change. elimination of natural inundation areas: wetlands, flood plains and so on.’…

A scene after the 2009 flooding in Poland, from the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland, Wikimedia Commons, terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

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