This week heavy rainfall in Central Europe caused some of the worst flooding in centuries as rivers across Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic breached their banks. At least 16 people have died in the massive floods, and thousands have been evacuated from their homes. While the main focus of rescue workers has been on getting people to safety, authorities have also been forced to shut down chemical plants that were threatened by the floods.

Dresden flood, Dresden, Flooding, Germany flooding, European floods

In one of the most frightening scenes from the week’s flooding, a flood barrier broke at the Lovochemie chemical plant near Prague, causing the factory to flood. Fortunately, the plant’s workers had already been evacuated, and hazardous chemicals had been removed.

In another dramatic scene, families in the south German town of Deggendorf scrambled to their roofs and were airlifted to safety as the entire town was submerged with water. Deggendorf is located along the Danube River, where two levees broke causing widespread flooding throughout the town. Deggendorf was far from alone, though. In the Czech Republic, authorities reported that about 19,000 people were evacuated from their homes. And about 1,000 people in the German city of Dresden were forced to leave their homes, reminding people of the 2002 flood that caused more than 30,000 people to be evacuated.

Although the floodwaters have receded in Prague, the flooding probably isn’t over. About 1,200 people piled up sandbags on the banks of the Danube in Budapest, as the city prepared for the worst.

Via Reuters, the BBC and AP

Photos by Stefan Malsch and Flickr user ptwo