CNN is reporting that Hungary may see its worst floods ever as the "surging" Danube, which has already caused destruction in parts of Germany, Austria and Slovakia, hits record levels .
According to the article, as of press time on Friday, the river is expected to peak near the border with Slovakia, in Nagybajcs, on Saturday morning and in the capital, Budapest, on Monday. The European Commission's emergency response center said that in both areas, the highest-ever-measured water levels are expected.
Hungary's Water Management Authority said a new record, nearly 8 inches more than the previous high, had already been set at Nagybajcs as of midday Friday. Budapest mayor Istvan Tarlos said he expects a record of almost 30 feet in the capital but he believes its flood defenses should keep the city safe with about a foot to spare.
Nearly 400 people have been evacuated so far, and about 70 communities have been hit by flooding. The country's military is working on dams along the river's length and is preparing to deploy helicopters and amphibious vehicles if needed.
According to the Associated Press, water levels in southern Germany have largely stabilized following massive flooding as the crest of swollen rivers has moved north, but many communities remain under water. The military said Friday it now has 11,300 soldiers helping in seven German states, building sandbag barriers and flying helicopters over floodzones to ensure levees and dams are holding.
The swollen Elbe River is putting the state of Saxony-Anhalt in eastern Germany at risk, and thousands of people are being evacuated from their homes a day after the flow peaked in Dresden, in Saxony. (Flood defenses, CNN notes, saved the center of the historic city from serious damage.) The water is still rising in the Elbe as it makes its way toward the North Sea, and is expected to peak in Saxony-Anhalt on Tuesday. As of Friday, about 12,000 people had been evacuated from their homes in Saxony, the European Commission said.
Impact on Travel
As we reported earlier this week, the flooding has caused some cruise lines to put guests onto other ships, adapt itineraries, shorten their cruises or move guests onto land tours. Others have cancelled cruises and are providing full refunds and some incentives for guests. River vessels are safely docked awaiting the water level on the rivers to drop.
“Due to unprecedented high water levels in Central Europe,” Tauck said in a statement, the company will has canceled the following 2013 departures:
- The Blue Danube-Eastbound May 30 departure
- The Blue Danube- Westbound June 6 departure
- Grand European Cruise- Southbound June 2 departure
- Amsterdam to Budapest by Riverboat-Southbound June 2 departure
- Budapest to the Black Sea-Eastbound June 14 departure
"As the surge of the Danube River is expected to pass Budapest Monday or Tuesday, and the impact of the surge as it heads from Budapest to the Black Sea is unknown at this time," the operator said in a statement, "we have cancelled [the Budapest to the Black Sea-Eastbound] departure." For currently operating cruises which may be affected - such as by a change of ports or shortened itinerary, Tauck is giving guests the choice of sailing on an altered itinerary or departing early with a full refund. The line said the safety of guests is its top concern.
Scenic Cruises has not reported any cancelled cruises as of press time, although the embarkation process for the June 10 and June 12 departures from Budapest will be affected. "It is our expectation at this time the ships will be unable to dock in Budapest on those dates," the statement said. The line is reportedly using ground transportation to continue the guests’ vacations, and four of its ships are docked waiting for water level to drop.