Flood!

You might have heard about the huge floods that affected Europe at the beginning of June. Here are some pictures and our experiences from Budapest.

The Danube river flows through Budapest and slices the city into two: Buda and Pest. The Danube starts in the southern part of Germany, in the Black Forest and flows into the Black Sea, in Romania, passing through 10 countries along the way. We heard about the flooding in Germany well before the crest arrived in Budapest, so the city had plenty of time to prepare (in fact, the whole country had to prepare as the Danube runs through the middle of Hungary). Interestingly, we experienced virtually no rain before and during the flood time; it was all the rain upstream in Germany that (over)filled the Danube. The ‘flooding’ was a slow process; the river rose to its highest level for over a week and then took about another week to recede to its normal level.

Budapest has a long history of floods. After an especially destructive 1838 flood, it was decided that protective walls would be built along the river bank. IMG_4915So toward the end of the 19th century those plans became reality and the ‘rakpart’ (‘docks’ in direct translation) was built. ‘Rakpart’ is basically a road lying lower than the city level and is separated from the rest of the city by a high stone wall. You can see on the picture to the right what the ‘rakpart’ is.

When the Danube floods they close the ‘rakpart’ and the river can expand in those areas. On the pictures below you can see how the ‘rakpart’ looks like when the river flooded in June. The road signs popping out of the water show you where the road is (and a sense of how much water is covering it!)  You can also see a floating dock where ships can be boarded . You enter the dock from the ‘rakpart’ level so that is underwater on this picture. The stop for the ship (a glass contraption) is underwater as well. All ship transportation was cancelled during the flood since the ships could not pass under the bridges.

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The city can be protected from flooding up to 9 meter high water levels. The recent flood was 8.92 meter high. Phew! 8 centimeters away from disaster. You can how the water crept up to the steps of the Parliament. An underground garage is being built next to the parliament. The building site had to be flooded in advance of the crest so the already built portions would not collapse under the water pressure. IMG_6445trimmed