was at work when I heard the news on TV.
It had been pouring with rain for several
days and I could see that the River Vltava
was swollen. Now it appeared that there
was a real danger that the river would overflow.
All of us who lived or worked near the river
were being advised to get out and move to
a place of safety.
office is in the centre of Prague only a
hundred metres from the river bank and I
live in a flat in a small town just a few
kilometres north of Prague, right on the
banks of the River Vltava, so I was in danger
both at c work and at home.
wife and baby were at my flat, so I did
the sensible thing and went home immediately.
I packed my wife and my child into the car
and I drove them to her parents' house.
They would be completely safe there. So
far, so good! But then I stopped being sensible,
and I jumped back into the car and went
back to our flat.
did I do that? I told myself that it was
because I was afraid of looters breaking
into our flat and stealing things, but the
truth was that I felt that I wanted to be
in the middle of things, to be involved
in what was a happening.
stayed up all night watching the TV bulletins.
They were giving regular reports on how
fast the water level was rising at various
places throughout the Czech Republic. There
was a journalist reporting from just down
the road from where I was, north of Prague,
so I could sit in my sitting room and watch
the danger increase as the minutes passed,
but I still didn't move.
suppose I had a kind of perverse desire
to be the last person to leave our block
of flats. I could hear cars starting up
and setting off all evening, and from time
to time I looked out at our car park and
I could see that it was almost empty. At
about three in the morning, my car was the
only one left in the car park and my nerves
gave out - or maybe I just came to my senses,
because I finally decided to get into the
car and escape.
roads towards Prague were flooded, so I
decided to try to get to a relative's house,
which was a few kilometres away in the opposite
direction, away from the river. I tried
various escape routes but even these roads
were impassable now. I was about to give
up - I thought I'd left it too late.
my last attempt, I drove until I met another
car which was blocking the road. The road
ahead was flooded, but the driver of the
other car was wading into the water to see
how deep it was. He said he thought he could
make it, so I decided to follow him. The
water was rising quickly now, but he drove
really really slowly through the water and
I felt a bit impatient.
he managed to get through the water safely.
I followed him, but I went much more quickly.
Water was coming into the car under the
door, and the engine made a funny noise
like a cough a couple of times, but I got
through and finally arrived safely at my
was one of the lucky ones. My office escaped
the flood and my flat wasn't damaged at
all as it's on the third floor. But the
poor people who lived on the ground floor
- their flats were very badly damaged. They
had been completely under water.