Hi Rik, you are now on vacation in Slovenia, near the flood zone. What do you see from your vacation spot?
We have already been in Slovenia for two and a half weeks and are currently staying not far from Kranj, in the northwest of the country. We are in an old farmhouse along a river in a beautiful green gorge.
‘We had heard before that a nice river ran by the house. This week we were in that river and the super clear water was up to our ankles. It rained all night last night and when we looked at the river this morning, it had turned into a dark, swirling stream.
—That makes you a little nervous. Especially when a neighbor told us we couldn’t leave the valley because of landslides and flooding. This means you are stuck in a 15 kilometer long gap between two runways. Then you start to look at a place with different eyes. Then you start thinking about whether your car can still be left standing, where you parked it, or how to get to the roof, if necessary.
‘The owner of the house tried to reassure us by saying that the house has been standing for 250 years and has never flooded. When I studied in Delft I learned about dike design. These are based on events that occur once every thousand or ten thousand years. So 250 years is nothing.
‘It reminded me of the German town of Schuld in the Eifel. I was there two years ago to report on the huge floods. That was also a town among the mountains that had been completely swallowed by a swollen river. Here too the river has little space. There are about 100 meters between two rock walls between which the river runs. In reality, the river can only rise and it is unknown how much rain will fall in the next few hours.’
Were you prepared for so much rain?
‘Yesterday we were still under the sun with 26 degrees in the capital Ljubljana. The weather apps indicated there was a 90 to 100 percent chance of rain, but we had experienced that before. Finally there was a shower. We really didn’t see it coming.
“It wasn’t a big storm either, but it rained a lot for a long time. As much rain fell in one day as normally falls in a month. So you have to remember that all that rain has to flow through a funnel.’
But what does the river look like now?
‘The river has overflowed on one side, but for now we are on the right side of the river. This afternoon the water level also dropped slightly, but before you know it the river is quickly rising again. It was dry for a while, but now it has started to rain. We can get out of the valley again, so luckily if we want to do it, we can do it.’
Read more: Three dead, including two Dutch, due to ‘biblical’ floods in Slovenia
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