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'Floods took away my livelihood'

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A firefighter helps a girl to safety amid evacuations in flood-hit Prague  


PRAGUE, Czech Republic (CNN) -- As the worst floods for centuries devastate the Czech Republic's historic capital of Prague, businessman Pavel Tichy, 28, tells CNN how the disaster has rocked his family's livelihood.

"This is the worst thing that has happened here in my lifetime, that's for sure. Things are very bad.

The business my family has built for 10 years has gone within two days.

The floods have inundated our factory -- I could swim in my office among the floating pieces of furniture and paper files.

I work with my father Pavel, mother Helena and brother Jan in running our company, Erilens, which manufacturers plastic eye lenses for people that have had cataract operations.

CNN NewsPass VIDEO
Europe's historic old cities under threat of flooding(August 13)

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As the water rises, officials in Prague order the evacuation of thousands of people (August 13)

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QUOTE
"Our workers helped out bravely, they were all carrying boxes as they were evacuated from the plant."
-- Pavel Tichy

My family had built the company since its beginnings in 1992 into a business with a $2.5 million turnover and 48 employees.

But when I leave my apartment here on higher ground safe from the floods and go to a hill nearby, I can see our manufacturing plant completely submerged -- the water has reached up to the very top of the roof of the two-storey building.

The water is still going up and is reaching places that it did not even get to in the great flood of 1890. It is difficult to see how the city is going to pull itself back from this.

It is very sad, but although on one hand what has happened has been devastating, on the other we feel we have coped well and are fortunate that we will be able to start again.

We are well insured, and hope to fight back and find other premises to work from. We will have to build a completely new building and start again, and it could take a year to get ourselves back on our feet properly.

And we are worried about how badly the insurers are going to be hit by all this and whether they can cope with the costs of the floods or whether they will be bankrupted.

We are relying 100 percent on our insurance company -- if we do not get our money from it, we would have to go to a bank for a loan and things would be very hard, we would be starting from scratch.

It is a big question how we will survive - we are only the producer of this product in the Czech Republic. Our competitors are mostly American companies, and if the customer needs the goods and we cannot supply them, they will order from our competitors.

But we still have stocks and I believe we will survive.

The first we heard of the floods coming was last week and we took out all the computers from the plant.

On Monday, there were heavy rains in the south of the country and we were told the floods would be much worse, so we got a truck and took everything out, but we were hoping the water would not get into the building -- now it has risen far higher than we foresaw.

Our workers helped out bravely, they were all carrying boxes as they were evacuated from the plant -- they all helped, and now they are in their homes waiting to hear what will happen next.

The city's mayor and rescue workers are doing a good job.

The worst thing I have seen is in the historic centre of the city where the beautiful places of Prague are under water.

A lot of the restaurants are gone and the water is 3 metres deep along some of the streets.

But in the end, we know we are among the fortunate ones -- we have seen the rest of the flooding on CNN and know that people have lost their lives in the south of the country.

We are very sad about the plight of those flood victims and their relatives."



 
 
 
 






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