1997 Central European flood

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1997 Central European flood
A stone in the Silesian village of Cisek, Poland in memory of the flood.
Duration July 1997
Fatalities 105-115 (55 in Poland, 50-60 in the Czech Republic)
Damages $4.5 billion
Areas affected
Czech Republic, Poland, Germany

The 1997 Central European flood or the 1997 Oder Flood of the Oder River and its tributaries in July 1997 affected Poland, Germany, and the Czech Republic, taking the lives of about 100 people[1] (in the Czech Republic and Poland) and causing material damages estimated at $4.5 billion (3.8 billion euros in the Czech Republic and Poland and 330 million euros in Germany). The flooding began in the Czech Republic, then spread to Poland and Germany. In Poland, where it was one of the most disastrous floods in the history of that country,[2][3] it was named the Millennium Flood (Powódź tysiąclecia).[3] The term was also used in Germany (Jahrtausendflut).[4] The flood has also been referred to as the Great Flood of 1997.[3][5]


Southwestern Poland and the northern Czech Republic experienced two periods of extensive rainfall, the first occurring 3–10 July and the second 17–22 July.[3][6] The precipitation was caused by a Genoa low pressure system, which moved from northern Italy to Moravia and Poland. The unusual development occurred when the field of higher air pressure between the Azores Islands and Scandinavia was blocked. The center of the low pressure remained over southern Poland for a long period.[3]

The precipitation was very high, measuring 300–600 millimetres (12–24 in), and corresponded to several months' average rainfall over a few days.[2] The waters rose 2–3 m above the previously recorded averages[2] and were so high that they flooded over standing measurement poles. It was one of the heaviest rainfalls in the recorded world's history.[5] It was dubbed the Millennium Flood because the likelihood of such a flood in a particular year was estimated at 0.1%.[7]


Entry sign to village of Stary Dwór, Wołów County, Poland

Flooding began on July 5 in the Czech Republic and spread to Poland on July 6. Those early floods were very rapid flash floods (water levels rose by up to four meters in half a day).[3] In Poland, the first towns flooded were located around Głuchołazy, and were visited by Polish Prime Minister Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz on July 7.[5] Flooding spread rapidly from Chałupki to Racibórz. In Kłodzko several buildings dating back a few hundred years (kamienica) collapsed; on 8 July the flood reached Krapkowice. In the second stage of the flood, the flood wave flowed down through the Oder river, submerging successive towns in the area.[3] Left-bank Opole was flooded on July 10, Wrocław and Rybnik on July 12, and Głogów soon after. The rising waters slowed by the time they reached the Polish-German border (the Oder-Neisse line), allowing more time for preparations; the damages were thus much lower.[3]

On 18 July, Polish president Aleksander Kwaśniewski declared a day of national mourning.[8]

Water levels[edit]

Water levels recorded on the Oder river in the flood period:[9]

A memorial near University Bridge in Wroclaw honors people who worked to save the city during the 1997 flood. It depicts a symbolic woman at the University Library, carrying all books from lower to upper floors.
Location Oder-km Maximum water level
 Poland Racibórz Miedonia 55.5 1045 1997-07-09
 Poland Ujście Nysy 180.5 768 1997-07-10
 Poland Rędzin 261.1 1030 1997-07-13
 Poland Brzeg Dolny 284.7 970 1997-07-13 - 1997-07-14
 Poland Malczyce 304.8 792 1997-07-14 - 1997-07-15
 Poland Ścinawa 331.9 732 1997-07-15
 Poland Głogów 392.9 712 1997-07-16
 Poland Nowa Sól 429.8 681 1997-07-16
 Poland Cigacice 471.3 682 1997-07-19
 Poland Połęcko 530.3 595 1997-07-24
 Germany Ratzdorf 542.5 691 1997-07-24
 Germany Eisenhüttenstadt 554.1 717 1997-07-24
 Germany Frankfurt/Oder 584.0 657-656 1997-07-27
 Poland Słubice 584.1 637 1997-07-27
 Germany Kietz 614.8 653 1997-07-27 - 1997-07-28
 Germany Kienitz 633.0 628 1997-07-24
 Poland Gozdowice 645.3 659 1997-07-31 - 1997-08-01
 Germany Hohensaaten-Finow 664.9 729 1997-07-31
 Germany Hohensaaten
Ostschleuse OP (Oderseite)
667.2 805 1997-07-31
 Poland Bielinek 673.5 712 1997-07-31-1997-08-01
 Germany Stützkow 680.5 1009 1997-07-29
 Germany Schwedt Oderbrücke 690.6 886 1997-08-02
 Germany Schwedt
Schleuse OP (Oderseite)
697.0 840 1997-08-01 - 1997-08-02
 Poland Widuchowa 701.8 760 1997-08-02 - 1997-08-03
 Germany Gartz (Oder) 8,0 698 1997-08-01 - 1997-08-02
 Germany Mescherin 14.1 672 1997-08-03
 Poland Gryfino 718.5 649 1997-08-03
 Germany Ückermünde Oderhaff 536 1997-08-06

Fatalities and damages[edit]

Wrocław, Poland. July 1997. Flooding aftermath. Podwale Street near Krasińskiego, Dąbrowskiego and Komuny Paryskiej St. crossing. Left side of photo - town moat.

The flood caused the deaths of 105-115 people (55 in Poland,[10][11] 50[5]-60[12] in the Czech Republic) and material damages estimated at $4.5 billion[13] (3.8 billion euros in the Czech Republic and Poland and 330 million euros in Germany).

In Poland, it is estimated that 7,000 people lost all of their possessions. 9,000 private businesses were affected and 680,000 houses were damaged or destroyed. The flood also damaged 843 schools (100 destroyed), 4,000 bridges (45 destroyed), 14,400 km of roads, 2,000 km of railways. In total, 665.835 hectares were affected in Poland (an estimated 2% of Polish total territory).[2][14] The losses were estimated at 63 billion Polish zloties (or US$2.3-3.5 billion at the 1997 levels[2]). The town of Kłodzko sustained damages equivalent to 50 years of its annual budget.[3][3]

In the Czech Republic, there were 50 fatalities[5] (another source gives 60[12]). 2151 flats and 48 bridges were destroyed.[15] 538 villages and towns were affected.[5] The losses were estimated at 63 billion Czech korunas.[5] The town of Troubky was most severely affected.

In Germany there were no fatalities.[16]


Government responses in Czech Republic and Poland were criticized.[5] The flood revealed various inadequacies in decision making and infrastructure, although the unprecedented magnitude of the disaster was seen by some as a mitigating factor.[2][3]

Numerous charities provided aid to those affected by the floods.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Third dike bursts in flood-hit Germany". CNN. 25 July 1997. Retrieved 25 September 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Roman Konieczny. Paweł Madej. Małgorzata Siudak. Local Flood Hazard Reduction Plans in Poland - Problems and Perspectives. In Eve Gruntfest; John Handmer (2001). Coping with flash floods. Springer. pp. 91–. ISBN 978-0-7923-6826-7. Retrieved 5 March 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Zbigniew W. Kundzewicz. Summer 1997 Flood in Poland in Perspective. In Oleg Fedorovich Vasilʹev; M. V. Bolgov; E. J. Plate (2007). Extreme Hydrological Events: New Concepts for Security. Springer. pp. 98–. ISBN 978-1-4020-5740-3. Retrieved 5 March 2011. 
  4. ^ Martin Doring. The Politics of Nature: Constructing the German Reunification during the Great Odra Flood 1997 in Riyan J. G. van den Born; W. T. de Groot; Rob H. J. Lenders (2006). Visions of nature: a scientific exploration of people's implicit philosophies regarding nature in Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. LIT Verlag Münster. pp. 155–. ISBN 978-3-8258-9008-7. Retrieved 5 March 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h K. Szamalek. The Great Flood of 1997 in Poland: The Truth and Myth. In Geoffrey E. Petts; C. Amoros (1996). Fluvial hydrosystems. Springer. pp. 67–. ISBN 978-0-412-37100-4. Retrieved 5 March 2011. 
  6. ^ (German) Studien und Tagungsberichte, Schriftenreihe des Landesumweltamtes Brandenburg. Band 16 - Das Sommerhochwasser an der Oder 1997 - Fachbeiträge anläßlich der Brandenburger Ökologietage II. Potsdam. Marz 1997
  7. ^ (Polish) Przemysław Berg, Czy grozi nam powódź: Widmo Wielkiej Wody, Polityka, 21 lutego 2010
  8. ^ (Polish) Zarządzenie Prezydenta Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej z dnia 15 lipca 1997 r. w sprawie opuszczenia flagi państwowej Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej. M.P. 1997 nr 42 poz. 423
  9. ^ Studien und Tagungsberichte, Schriftenreihe des Landesumweltamtes Brandenburg. Band 16 - Das Sommerhochwasser an der Oder 1997 - Fachbeiträge anläßlich der Brandenburger Ökologietage II. Potsdam. Marz 1997
  10. ^ (Polish) ZBIGNIEW W. KUNDZEWICZ, MACIEJ ZALEWSKI, ANDRZEJ KĘDZIORA, EDWARD PIERZGALSKI, Zagrożenia związane z wodą, NAUKA 4/2010 • 87-96
  11. ^ Zbigniew W. Kundzewicz. Summer 1997 Flood in Poland in Perspective. In Oleg Fedorovich Vasilʹev; M. V. Bolgov; E. J. Plate (2007). Extreme Hydrological Events: New Concepts for Security. Springer. pp. 102–. ISBN 978-1-4020-5740-3. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  12. ^ a b Jaromir Riha. Dams and floods in the Czech Republic. In L. Berga (25 May 2006). Dams and Reservoirs, Societies and Environment in the 21st Century: Proceedings of the International Symposium on Dams in the Societies of the 21st Century, 22nd International Congress on Large Dams (ICOLD), Barcelona, Spain, 18 June 2006. Taylor & Francis. pp. 193–. ISBN 978-0-415-40423-5. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  13. ^ Jochen Schanze; Evzen Zeman; Jiri Marsalek (2006). Flood risk management: hazards, vulnerability and mitigation measures. Springer. pp. 22–. ISBN 978-1-4020-4597-4. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  14. ^ (Polish) Jerzy Grela, Henryk Słota, Jan Zieliński (editors). 1999. Dorzecze Wisły. Monografia Powodzi lipiec 1997. Instytut Meteorologii i Gospodarki Wodnej. ISBN 83-85176-68-3
  15. ^ Axel Bronstert (August 1999). Proceedings of the European Expert Meeting on the Oder Flood 1997: 18 May 1998, Potsdam, Germany : Ribamod concerted action. Office for Official Publications of the Euroopean Communities. ISBN 978-92-828-6073-1. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  16. ^ Wilhelm Kirch; Bettina Menne; Roberto Bertollini (13 September 2005). Extreme weather events and public health responses. Birkhäuser. pp. 202–. ISBN 978-3-540-24417-2. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  17. ^ Jeffrey K. Johnson (2009). American advertising in Poland: a study of cultural interactions since 1990. McFarland. pp. 155–. ISBN 978-0-7864-3797-9. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 

External links[edit]

Media related to 1997 Oder flood at Wikimedia Commons