Floods are natural phenomena, which have helped to shape natural landscapes, habitats and ecosystems in floodplains, wetlands and other lowlands. They are impossible to prevent altogether, although measures may be taken to reduce their frequency and the damage they cause.
Floods can, however, turn into disasters causing widespread damage, health problems and casualties.
Increased peak flood flow occurs where rivers have been cut off from their natural floodplains, are confined to a man-made channel, and where houses and industrial sites have been constructed in areas that are naturally liable to flooding. Changes in land use in rural and urban areas can also worsen floods or their effects.
The impacts of major floods in Europe may increase considerably in the future, since society is becoming more vulnerable to the damage and disruption caused by floods, and because floods may become more serious and more frequent due to climatic changes.
Facts and Figures
Over the period 1998–2000, different parts of Europe suffered about 100 serious floods, causing some 700 fatalities, the displacement of about half a million people and at least EUR 25 billion in insured economic losses. These floods inundated an estimated total area of one million square kilometres, including areas that were flooded more than once. Around 1.5% of the European population were directly affected by flooding.
Overview of impacts caused by the 2002 floods in the Danube River Basin
In the following, you find a concise overview on flood damages and related impacts in the Danube River Basin for the devastating flood year of 2002. They are divided by affected country.
Floods in Bavaria affected the Danube from Regensburg to Passau, and many tributaries including the Inn, Traun, Salzach and Regen. Thanks to flow regulation structures, the negative impacts of the flooding were substantially reduced. The utilisation of reservoirs at Dillingen and at Ingolstadt helped to reduce flood peaks considerably. The extent of damage to infrastructure and private properties amounted to 230 million Euro.
Lower and Upper Austria and Salzburg suffered worst from the floods. More than 10,000 homes were damaged, infrastructure was destroyed, and the total cost of infrastructural rehabilitation is expected to amount to €232 million. Preliminary estimates of the total damage amount 3.1 billion Euro.
In the Morava River Basin about 20 communities were affected by floods. Major damage was caused to urban settlements, infrastructure and agriculture. Damages amounted to some €11.7 million (7 million for state and municipal property and 4.7 million for private property).
Major areas affected by flooding included parts of central Slovakia inundated by flash floods and an area around Bratislava impacted by the Danube flood. 144 settlements and 8,678 hectares of land were flooded. Damages amounted to €36.2 million and emergency measures cost some €2.2 million.
Several municipalities were affected by the flooding of the Danube near Visegrad. About 2,000 people had to be evacuated, and 4,370 homes were damaged. More serious damage was successfully avoided by flood prevention structures and emergency interventions, however. The overall cost of the emergency operation was €33 million, and the rehabilitation of flood defence structures is expected to cost some €10.2 million.
Flash floods in the Suceava region of northern Romania caused 11 casualties, while 1,624 houses were flooded, and more than 1,000 km of roads and 567 bridges were destroyed. Gas, electricity and communication networks were also badly damage.
Floods in 2006
In 2006, a serious spring flood occurred in the Danube River Basin - the result of specific meteorological weather conditions. Heavy floods inundated Central and Eastern Europe due to melting snow and heavy rainfall. Swollen rivers and rising groundwater levels caused widespread damage and forced thousands to leave their homes. For the first time in history, high water was recorded on the Danube, Sava, and Tisza at the same time – this rare coincidence caused an extreme flood event in the main Danube (primarily in the Central and Lower Danube reaching a 100-year return period).
The ICPDR decided to evaluate the flood event, not only to assess its specific hydrological characteristics, but also to analyse overall preparedness and assess the measures that were taken at the national level. The aim was to highlight lessons that could be learned in order to prevent or minimize damage in the future. A report was prepared that provides an overview of the different aspects of the spring 2006 flood event including proposals for the way forward.
- 2010 Floods in the Danube River Basin (1.74 MB)
Flood Action Programme (1.85 MB) Action Programme for Sustainable Flood Protection in the Danube River Basin
Aktionsprogramm für nachhaltigen Hochwasserschutz (502.26 KB) Deutsche Fassung des "Flood Action Programs": Aktionsprogramm für nachhaltigen Hochwasserschutz im Einzugsgebiet der Donau
- The analysis of the Danube floods 2006 (4.7 MB)
Vienna, 21 April 2006 - International efforts to prevent and reduce flood impacts in the Danube River Basin will be strengthened by the end of the year by the ICPDR. “The floods currently ravaging countries in the Danube Basin, as in 2002 and 2005, are again providing lessons that greater international efforts are needed for the long-term,” says Philip Weller, the ICPDR’s Executive Secretary.
Participation of the stakeholder is a prerequisite for integrated river basin management planning. On occasion of Danube Day 2005, the ICPDR invited stakeholders from all riparian countries to participate in the first basin-wide stakeholder conference, which was held in Budapest, as Hungary was the ICPDR President in 2005.
Article in Danube Watch 02/2006