- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 20, 2002

DESSAU, Germany Flooding that has forced about 80,000 east Germans from their homes spread further through the region yesterday, threatening to add to the misery as the country faced its biggest relief effort since World War II.

In Hungary, the Danube River peaked at a historic high in Budapest without causing major flooding after relief workers spent a frantic night bolstering dikes. The capital's high flood walls, built at the turn of the last century, held off the floodwater in the city center, but one barrier gave way in a northern suburb.

Europe is wrestling with the aftermath of violent storms that swept the continent two weeks ago. German authorities reported three more deaths yesterday, bringing the Europewide toll to at least 109.

To help foot the recovery bill, the German government said yesterday it was delaying tax cuts planned for next year. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, speaking after an emergency Cabinet meeting in Berlin, said the move would free up $6.8 billion.

As the swollen Elbe Rive swept north through Germany to the North Sea despite sunny weather over the country Dessau residents grabbed their belongings and fled waters that swamped part of the city after a dike gave way overnight. Military helicopters clattered overhead, dropping sandbags to bolster the barrier.

Juergen von der Heydt, a Dessau City Council member whose home was flooded neck-deep, leaned on the wall of a half-submerged restaurant near his home in suburban Waldersee to catch his breath.

"What I'm wearing is all I've got," he said. "I've been up for five days and nights, and I haven't managed to rescue anything."

Dessau is home to a famed Bauhaus architecture school. Houses designed by the Bauhaus school's master architects in Dessau were considered safe, city spokeswoman Christina Framke said.

Outside Wittenberg, where the Elbe broke through dikes on Sunday, rescuers used boats and ropes to bring several people trapped in their homes to safety. They also captured a sea lion that escaped from a zoo in the Czech capital, Prague, during the flooding and swam 150 miles to Germany.

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