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The Czech Republic, with a bit of exaggeration, is called the roof of Europe. The answer to the question "Why?" is quite simple. Many rivers have head waters in our country, but almost none of them flow into our country from elsewhere. All the water then drains away like from a proverbial roof. And if there are strong torrential rains or the spring thaw occurs, they can cause huge mischief.
Unfortunately, we have extensive experience with floods in the Czech Republic. Already in the fourteenth century, water washed away the fabulous Judita´s Bridge, and only a few decades later, water badly damaged the Charles Bridge at the same place. This same scenario has repeated several times, even up to today. We need not only search in the historical annals to see what water on the loose can do. We all still have fresh memories of the devastating floods of 1997 and 2002. And moreover, it has not even been four years since the Vltava River in Prague had a flow rate of over three thousand cubic meters of water per second. Also at that time, the flood claimed lives and caused enormous damage to property.
Concrete troughs do more harm than good
Neither has the often well-intentioned, but not well thought-out interventions, in the second half of the twentieth and the first decade of the twenty-first century helped. They bear the hallmarks of the idea that a person can get the better of nature. In response to the floods, the river and stream beds were straightened and made from concrete. Nowadays, the water flowing through cannot naturally expand outas it was possible earlier thanks to meanders in the landscape. So nothing is obstructing the force of a flood wave on its way. On the contrary, the force continues to grow causing more damage when the waters finally burst the banks.
Building on farmland, which has been the trend in recent years, poses an even bigger problem. Instead of ground which is able to soak up the rain water, we have asphalted car parks or growing urban satellites. The water that used to enrich our groundwater in the past, flows to the surface. On top of that, you have to add the fact that the baulks and hedgerows, which earlier helped to retain water in the landscape, disappeared from our fields a long time ago, and that the use of heavy farm equipment and the planting of unsuitable crops have changed our land from a thirsty sponge into rather a slide, so you are asking for trouble.
Brevity is the soul of wit
Therefore, it is no wonder that an efficient and easy to use flood barrier system has been developed in the Czech Republic. The development and testing was mainly done by professionals from the company GUMOTEX in cooperation with the clever heads of the Laboratory for Water Resources Research, Water Structures Institute, Faculty of Civil Engineering, Brno University of Technology. The resulting solution is very simple in its principle.
The basis are coated textiles, this is figuratively speaking the daily bread of Gumotex. Already in 1950 protective clothing was being sewn from coated textiles at the Břeclav plant, and the company has continued that tradition. Most of the company's products are also intended today to protect the health and safety of customers. The range of products has grown quite significantly. In addition to working clothes, inflatable mats, and boats, products from polyurethane foams are being made here. Even though orders for the automotive and furniture industries dominate manufacturing, GUMOTEX is also well-known by the paddlers, and last but not least, by the rescue services.
They probably know the product line Rescue Systems best: including tents, decontamination showers and basins, or aids and special suits for rescuers, as well as the flood barriers. And what does such a flood protection system by GUMOTEX really look like? First of all – it reminds us of a construction kit. And maybe you will be a little bit surprised that it uses water for the fight against water. This time, however, harnessed in ten meters long bags with a diameter of 80 and 40 cm or in cubes with a steel frame that can hold back flood waters up to a height of 1.35 meters. The modular system, where the individual bags and cubes are connected into a dike of any length, allows intervention effectively and very quickly.
When you are playing for time, you need a quick but a reliable solution
Speed is crucial in the case of flood water. Although early warning systems are constantly being improved, they are often not able to predict torrential rains. Even today's modern equipment is not able to pinpoint exactly at which place the storm will exactly strike. Yes, they know that the rain will be coming. But they can only recognize “at eleventh hour” whether the rain will be, just as in Běšiny in the Bohemian Forest where flood disaster swept through in 2012.
Also, the localized character of today's weather plays against us. There is nothing unusual about the fact that in one city a drop does not fall, while a few kilometres away, people are having to fight for their lives and property in an unequal struggle with the elements. This phenomenon has even got its own, uncomfortably apt name - the flash flood. And provided that the people in the area affected by a flash flood can learn about it in advance – they only have minutes to get prepared, rather than having maximally some hours.
A river or a local stream can be overflowing in minutes, and all that is left to do is to stop the water or to drain it into a new riverbed to prevent any damage to the surrounding buildings or other objects. In most cases, it is too late for the slow and difficult filling of sandbags and piling up of embankments. The GUMOTEX´s flood barriers manage to do them both. Thanks to their stability they can raise already existing dikes and riverbanks. Their modular system allows creating an almost unlimited long row of barriers which also can be connected and built at right angles, to copy the riverbed, or to create a completely new riverbed.
For a smaller and even a stronger "flood water"
If you are not expecting a flood of biblical proportions, bags being filled with water are an ideal tool. Even two people can manage the deploymentof them easily. After unpacking, the pictograms directly on the bag show them how to proceed. Then, you only have to choose which way to lead the temporary dike, how long and high it should be. The bags have to be chained to one another tightly. Additionally, they can be piled up in triples on each other like a pyramid, so they can create a higher barrier. Besides floods, they can also be used by the fire fighters, who can easily assemble a tank of them if they need a bigger water reservoir. It is not important on what surface you arrange them. They will work equally well everywhere, whether they are placed on concrete, asphalt, soil, or gravel. It is important to remove sharp objects and to make sure there is a maximum terrain inclination of 2 °.
The cube barriers with steel frames are intended to be used in cases where very large amounts of water have to be held back. Like the bags, they can be connected to another impenetrably. However, unlike the bags, they are able to stand even when they are not filled with water thanks to the fixed frame. Even the independent experts from T. G. Masaryk Water Research Institute in Prague recommended them for their durability and efficiency.
A big advantage is that you can use both types of flood barriers made by Gumotex again at any time after draining water. This is possible thanks to the high resistance of the coated textiles and other materials, which the company buys only from reliable and proven suppliers from Western Europe. The use of modern technologies such as high-frequency welding and hot-air welding as well as sewing on automatic machines is common place in production. Demanding stress tests ensure that you can rely on the flood barriers from Gumotex under any conceivable circumstances.
We will not get rid of floods soon
Unfortunately, the reports by climatologists are quite clear. We can expect a lot more flooding in the future. Today, we rarely experience typical meteorological cycles which were the basis of the colourful weather proverbs of our ancestors, such as "St. Catherine on mud, Christmas on ice" or "Martin on a white horse". The main characteristics of the weather nowadays are unpredictability and extremes. Periods of drought and torrential rain can take turns several times a year. Or on the contrary, the weather gets stuck in one place for a longer period. Two years ago, while we in the Czech Republic enjoyed an unusually mild winter, it could not stop snowing in North America.
Both of these examples demonstrate the risk of flooding. And in the case of flood water, the saying is doubly true that it is better to be prepared than surprised. The flood barriers system from GUMOTEX have not only been used by municipalities and cities, rescuers and industrial companies in the Czech Republic, but also abroad due to its versatility, ease of handling and efficiency. Satisfied customers include Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic or the Škoda Auto plant.
Benefits of GUMOTEX flood barriers
• Mobile system of “water against water”
• Low demands on logistics due to being filled with water
• Useable on a variety of surfaces (e.g. concrete, asphalt, gravel)
• Impervious connectability to unlimited lengths
• Can be connected into angles and to copy riverbeds
• Intended for repeated use
• Tested and recommended by the independent testing laboratory (Laboratory for Water Resources Research, Water Structures Institute, Faculty of Civil Engineering, Brno University of Technology, Czech Republic, T. G. Masaryk Water Research Institute in Prague, Czech Republic)