The floods of historic levels ravaged the Czech Republic during the August 2002. Although floods have been expected for several days, the real power of the water exceeded the worst predictions. In the afternoon on Monday August 12, the water started to rise rapidly. Seeing this, several people from the Prague Central Laboratory decided to stay there overnight. During the night they focused all their efforts on transferring expensive instruments, PC´s and key documentation to higher floors. Thanks to this decision the majority of the instruments and documentation was saved. On Tuesday August 13, 2002, the laboratory was closed due to the flooding. Prague faced the worst flood in recorded history. The part of the Prague in which the laboratory was situated became a “ghost” town: no people, no electricity, only the howling of the police sirens. The amount of water in the laboratory was so large, that the ground floor was flooded up to the ceilings. On Wednesday August 14th, 2002, the river Vltava reached the peak of its height at 7.85 m.
The laboratory was closed until Friday August 16, when floodwaters dropped and the Vltava River was beginning to fall back. On Saturday August 17, 2002, when was possible to return back, it was found out that the biggest of Czech Customs Laboratories - the Customs and Technical Laboratory in Prague was heavily damaged. The staff of laboratory was shocked seeing the laboratory in ruins, nevertheless they started immediately with massive clean up operations and the renovation.
The building was pronounced safe and structurally undamaged, nevertheless, the several rents and seams revealed in the inner walls. Stored and unfinished samples were damaged or lost. Instruments including IR, HPLC, GC, GC/MS, UV/VIS and other smaller laboratory devices such as titrators, density-meters, refractometer, polarimeter were saved by moving them to the higher floors. Unfortunately huge and heavy analytical systems such as NMR, IRMS, ICP and RFX spectrometer and some of special device and engines for analyses of petroleum products were not possible to transfer to the higher floor. Surprisingly was found out, that e.g. the flooded NMR magnet worked properly after service intervention.
After the flood, the extensive renovation and reconstruction of laboratory began. The laboratory staff worked hard nearly two months on the physical reconstruction of the laboratory. People worked overtime and without electricity. Unfortunately even with greatest effort it was not possible to recover all laboratory equipment. The full restoration of all activities incl. equipment with all analytical systems and laboratory instruments, which were heavily damaged, was possible in the end of 2003.
Flooding and damage of CTL Prague resulted also to the speeding up of construction of the new building of CTL according to already designed plans. This new technical facility is located on the safe place next the building of the General Directorate of Customs in Prague 4, far from the river. The construction of this building was finished in 2004.