What the Floods Tell us about Pragocentrism

The Czech Television 24/7 online channel has been posting continuous updates on the floods that once again hold sway in Central Europe. One post in particular caught my attention (and not just mine): “If you have the impression that there’s small villages that are under threat and they’re not being talked about – please let us know by posting your description here”.

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This facebook post gathered about ten times more comments and shares than the average ČT24 post (although not quite as many as the photo of a bunch of snails on a bridge railing, eluding the rising water). Clearly, there is a lot going on in those small villages, and people are eager to report about them or find out what’s going on – and a lot of them seem to be fed up with the overexposure that Prague gets in the news, not just in general but also in this time of crisis. As one of the posters puts it: “I’m reading at the bottom of the screen that there’s a crisis situation in Mělník and that they’re evacuating people (…) and you keep repeating which metros are riding and which aren’t, which trams are going, how Prague’s seen the worst and what is going to have to be cleaned in Prague. You’ve got to be kidding us, right?”.

As in 2002, the floods have affected Prague life a great deal, not in the last place because the city has had to close down the subway system. But outside of Prague, a lot more damage was caused and a lot more people were affected. This is something that is forgotten all to easily by those in Prague, which includes close to 100 per cent of those working for the Czech news media. Of course, with Prague as the logistical hub and the government centre of the Czech Republic, things that happen there have a stronger impact on people elsewhere in the country than vice versa. Plus, an all but entirely submerged Charles bridge is a powerful image that many foreigners will recognize. But as both Czech and international media bring us news about and images of a flooded Prague, it’s good to remember that a lot if not most of the damage is being done elsewhere.

UPDATE: Prague is out of the woods now but further downstream in Northern Bohemia, the water is still rising – and now two mayors of affected cities are claiming that  their cities are suffering because the upstream reservoirs were emptied in an attempt to protect Prague – link to the story.

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