Danube damm damaged

Geologist and engineers have been in action in Upper-Austria this morning (Tuesday) after the floods caused the first damages to the Danube-bridge on Monday.

Experts are working tirelessly to secure the site and thousands of sand bags have been placed as a protective measure. However, the regional fire brigade commandant Wolfgang Kronsteiner said the Danube power plant had absolutely not let water pass and these are therefore not the cause of the current situation.

Another worry in Upper-Austria is that the 15-metre high protective dams might not be enough to keep the water away in Grein. Indeed, experts are expecting the water to reach levels of up to 14,70 metres this morning (Tuesday).

Markus Haider of the Upper-Austrian hydrographical agency said that the levels might go up 30 to 40 centimetres in Grein again, but also that the best part of the Danube water masses would have then passed through the region. He said: “Minor variations are sill possible, but in Linz for example, the condition of the water has been stable for hours, just like in Maunthausen. Now, it’s just a question of a few centimetres.”

During the course of last night however, many people had to be rescued from houses in the Goldwörth and Walding an der Donau areas of the Mühlviertel when the water level rose drastically, according to the regional fire brigade commandant Kronsteiner. Helicopters have been made available.

In Schärding, the level of the water has already rapidly sunken. Markus Furthner of the Schärding fire brigade said: “We planned how we could begin the clearing-up process as soon as possible throughout the night. We are going to start at 9 am with 500 fire brigade and army forces.

The army has already made 850 people available for the floodings. Some of those are from the Jäger battalion which was due to take part in an international exercise.

The crisis unit headed by the regional governor Josef Pühringer met again in Linz this morning. It was predicted that the critical point will be reached around midday today. Despite risks of the water overflowing in Grein, it was said during the meeting that the protective network of dams was proving very efficient.

Josef Pühringer said: “The protective dams have proven to be highly successful, if you compare the situation to the last floods in Mauthausen.”

He added that everyone knew all along that there could not be a 100 percent waterproof protection facility, because it is just not possible because of technical, statistical and spatial factors in certain villages.

If there costs are estimated to fall beneath the damages of the 2002 flooding, there is no precise estimate of the costs of damages to this date. Governor Pühringer has already activated the so-called catastrophe-fund. He said: “One has to do that besides the budget. One needs to make that money available.”

Like in many other places in Austria, the floods have caused traffic disturbances due to road and railway closures.

The local school authority has reaffirmed that all children who aren’t able to travel to school due to the floods will be excused at least until Wednesday morning.

The severe floods are also a cause of stress for Upper-Austrian businesses, although no estimate has yet been made as to the cost of the business loss to the local firms and the region.