Late last week, the usual spring flood of the Danube arrived to Hungary. The rivers rise each year in Hungary, which usually results in minor floods at the Alföld which people got used to during last few the years. But in 2006, it is different. The flood arrived to Budapest, and the Danube keeps rising even after it should have reached its peak on Sunday night, exceeding the last big tide of 2002 (848 cm).
The main reason for the flood of the Danube being so much of an unexpected and dreadful event is because it happens so rarely. One day, you take a walk on the bank of the Danube, enjoy the fresh air and the sights of Budapest, the other day there is knee-deep water in the same place. And the tide keeps rising and rising.
The water threatens the homes of many of the residents of Budapest, and public transport lines as well. The Budapest end of the Szentendre suburban railway line, which is undeground, and right next to the flooding Danube, had to be closed yesterday due to water breaking into the tunnels. If the Danube keeps rising, the Budapest Public Transport Company (BKV) will be forced to close the Batthiany square metro station too. The roads and streets right next to the Danube are also closed, mostly due to people building temporary dams of sandbags on them.
The most threatened areas of Budapest are the ones to the north, namely Romai beach, where the houses next to the river are already under water, and the Danube is slowly rising to the top of the regular dams, the last line of defense before the main residential areas. Another critical location is Margaret Island, which had been closed to the public on Sunday, and surrounded with sandbags from all sides, as the tide is now about as high as the ground level of the Island. Here the police is patrolling the damns to ensure that the sandbags hold.
Gabor Demszky, mayor of Budapest, called the citizens to help building dams thorughout the city whenever. they have time. At the endangered parts of the banks of the Danube in Budapest, soldiers, firemen, personnel of the BKV, and volunteers are working on reinforcing and rising the dams to keep the river within its usual boundaries.
Villages and towns in the Danube Bend are also flooded. The Hungaryan Railway Company (MAV) suspended its trains on many lines along the Danube to the north, making the area of Esztergom and Visegrad very hard to reach. Major roads and railways in the area are flooded, and the locals are making a desperate effort to prevent the tide in reaching their homes.
As of Tuesday morning, 516 people had to be removed from their homes because of the country-wide flooding of rivers. Today, the tide of the Danube is at more than 860 cm, and is expected to reach its peak tonight at 862 cm.
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