Bucharest (AFP) July 8, 2010
Environmental group WWF on Thursday urged Romanian authorities to adopt long-term measures to protect "people and nature" from floods, as the Danube threatened to burst its banks this weekend.
"WWF is calling for closer consideration to be given to measures that restore the natural capacity of the Danube floodplain to retain floodwaters," said Orieta Hulea, coordinator of the group's Danube-Carpathian programme.
Romania has been hit by severe storms and floods since June 21, which have left 25 people dead and forced 16,500 more to leave their homes.
In Galati, 28O kilometres northeast of Bucharest, authorites have built a 4.5-kilometre emergency dam, hoping it will prevent the Danube from overflowing on Saturday when it is expected to reach its peak level.
But WWF said this was only a temporary solution.
"Human intervention in the floodplains of the Danube and its major tributaries has led to an increased frequency and impact of flooding", Hulea said.
"Unfortunately this trend is expected to continue and we must seek long-term solutions for flood management that work with nature, not against it, by giving space back to the river."
A WWF study after devastating floods in 2006 shows that 70 percent of the floodplain along the lower Danube has been lost and its natural retention capacity dramatically reduced.
"Based on the analysis of four areas flooded in 2006 with an overall retention capacity of nearly 100,000 hectares, WWF has calculated that a volume of 1.6 billion cubic metres of floodwaters could have been stored," the group said.
earlier related report
The heaviest rain for several decades has topped off reservoirs in the border states of Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas, across from Texas, with officials diverting water into swollen rivers to avert major damage.
After Hurricane Alex soaked the region last week with floods that killed at least 15 people in Nuevo Leon, a new storm dumped still more rain on waterlogged terrain.
Some 40,000 homes have already been damaged in Coahuila, said state communications coordinator David Aguillon.
The "Gateway to the Americas" international bridge, one of the busiest border crossings between Texas and Tamaulipas, was closed on Wednesday after the Rio Grande river rose more than 10 meters (yards).
Two other international bridges remained open but under surveillance.
Some 3,500 people were evacuated from their homes in Tamaulipas as several reservoirs spilled over, threatening rural communities with floods.
Authorities have now evacuated some 22,000 people from the town of Anahuac, in Nuevo Leon, for fear that a nearby dam will overflow.
In the town of Linares, Nuevo Leon, the town hall collapsed, in dramatic footage shown on television, as its foundations weakened under the persistent rain, said Mayor Francisco Medina.
More than 100,000 people remained without drinking water around the state following last week's storms, which caused flooding and chaos in the capital Monterrey, said Javier Trevino, a state government official.
Alex also left a trail of overturned cars and mud-covered roads in its wake and caused an estimated 800 million dollars in property damage, said Nuevo Leon state Governor Rodrigo Medina.
The US National Weather Service has forecast heavy rains over southern Texas and northeast Mexico in the coming days.
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Galati, Romania (AFP) July 7, 2010
Inhabitants of Galati, eastern Romania, battled Wednesday to protect their homes from the rain-swollen Danube, hoping emergency dykes will hold as the 'blue' river threatens to burst its banks. "In 2004 and 2006, the Danube had already reached a very high level but I have never seen it as high as today," 63-year-old pensioner Ioana Vancu told AFP. Her house is located in one of the distr ... read more
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