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The Great Flood of 1997 in Poland
- KUNDZEWICZ, ZBIGNIEW W., SZAMALEK, KRZYSZTOF, KOWALCZAK, PIOTR
- Hydrological sciences journal 1999 v.44 no.6 pp. 855-870
- death, hydrology, rivers, summer, watersheds, Poland
- The flood that occurred in summer 1997 in Poland, affecting the drainage basins of the Odra and the Vistula, caused 54 fatalities and material losses of the order of billions of US$. The flood struck a large part of the country and caused inundation of 665 000 ha of land. The number of evacuees was 162 thousand. The rhetoric commonly used in Poland refers to the Great Flood of 1997 as an event whose scale exceeded all imagination about the possible size of the disaster. Indeed, historic maxima of river stage and flow rate were considerably exceeded. From the hydrological point of view, this flood was a very rare event, with a return period in some river cross-sections of the order of a thousand years and more. As this natural disaster, striking a dynamically developing country-in-transition, attracted much international interest, a holistic view of it is presented. Attempts to answer the questions: “Could the disaster have been avoided?” and “What lessons can be learnt from the flood?” are also made.