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World leaders and leading members of the business community appealed to international companies to assist in the repair and reconstruction efforts in Prague that will be underway soon after the flood waters of the River Vltava recede. Members of the NATO Host Committee, a charitable organization tasked by Czech President Vaclav Havel with supporting the 2002 Prague Summit, urged business to take an active role in helping to fund the recovery efforts for the city's worst flood in recorded history.
"The situation is serious; no doubt about that. It is serious and will remain so. The water levels are beginning to drop, and we are hoping that no new flood wave is coming. However, the floods are continuing unabated further north in the country. When the floods recede we will have a lot of work on our hands to repair the buildings, and to rebuild the homes, historical monuments and the totally destructed Prague metro stations. At the same time, it is very important to remember the wave of solidarity and cooperation among people. And from what I have noted, there is a large outpouring not only among ordinary people, but also among nations," Czech President Vaclav Havel said.
The NATO Host Committee, whose board members include such global leaders as former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and MetLife President and CEO Robert H. Benmosche, is working to raise funds and organize speakers and attendees for the NATO Summit in Prague this November.
"I hope that each of us does what we can to help immediately the people hurt and displaced by the floods. As soon as it is possible, we should also assist in repairing and restoring the beauty and history of Prague. I have spoken with President Havel who asked me to convey his appreciation for any assistance we can provide," Albright stated.
Because this year's Summit will be critical in determining what role NATO and its allies will play in the future in promoting democracy and peace worldwide, it was crucial to the Committee's Board Members that the city of Prague recover and be fully prepared for this historic Summit. "We should all help return this historic city to its splendor for our friends and the citizens of this great democratic nation," said Julie Finley, Chairman and CEO of the Board of Directors.
To ensure that the Czech Government has all of the necessary resources it needs to begin recovery and repair efforts in Prague, the Board appealed to global business leaders to make contributions to the Host Committee for disbursement for various reconstruction efforts.
Board members from within the Czech Republic already have started lending assistance. "Emergency communication and flood relief are our top priority," says Terrence Valeski, host committee board member and CEO of Eurotel, the country's leading mobile phone operator. "In addition to supplying free service to more than seven thousand emergency workers, we're working closely with the Red Cross to ensure people get what they need. Along with other partners, we've donated substantial funds and material supplies like potable water and sleeping bags to relief efforts."
Host Committee member company Motorola has been working with the city of Prague and the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs to enhance the city's existing two-way radio communications system for the November summit. Given the severity of the recent flooding, Motorola has accelerated its support to include the immediate loan of two-way radios to support the city of Prague's emergency response and cleanup efforts.
Reuters has reported that, "The costs of the damage, which will take weeks to assess, will easily top the $1.88 billion from floods in 1997." As of Friday morning, up to 8 percent of the city was already under water and the death toll stood at 11. More than 20,000 people have fled their homes in Prague, in the country's largest evacuation operation since World War II.