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Hungarian parliament member, IC officials discuss floods

BY GIBSON BERGLUND | JANUARY 21, 2011 7:10 AM

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Perhaps one of the few places more prone to regular flooding than Iowa is the northern region of Hungary.

That’s why Katalin Csobor, a member of the Hungarian Parliament, came to Iowa City this week.

Csobor said she hopes to learn from the community’s management and response to floods by talking with local experts about their flood-response resources.

On Thursday night, Csobor met students, professors, and community members in the basement of Atlas, 127 Iowa Ave.

“This is just the first step in establishing a relationship between the two communities,” Csobor told The Daily Iowan.

Hungary has two major rivers, the Danube and the Tisza, both of which are prone to flooding annually or biannually. The country’s most recent flood came last year.

“For Hungary, flood mitigation is also an issue of cross-country cooperation,” said UI graduate student and Hungary native Gyorgy Toth, who served as Csobor’s escort.

Danielle Dahl, the executive director of the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council and the Council For International Visitors to Iowa Cities, said Iowa and Hungary have a lot to learn from each other.

“It’s an exchange of ideas on what’s worked and what hasn’t,” she said. “It should be a mutual learning experience.”

The U.S. Department of State sent Csobor was sent to Iowa as part of the International Visitor Leadership Program.

Csobor said she wants to learn more about flooding because she has to deal with those type of issues on a daily basis.

“I told [the Department of State] I was interested to meet people with similar experience in floods because of the recent floods in Hungary,” Csobor said.

She lauded the United States for its advances in many fields, including flood mitigation. The Iowa Flood Center’s computer map system, which provides real-time information on flood risks, is an example of such advances, she said.

Toth explained because Hungary recently took up the rotating presidency of the European Union, the nation plans to engage the European community on such items as water resource management, meaning what Csobor learned in Iowa City could affect not only all of Hungary but possibly the rest of Europe.

“It’s really, really a big issue,” Toth said, “There is a real need.”

Csobor met with flood-mitigation experts, UI professors, and Iowa City officials while on her visit.

Today, she will head to Cedar Rapids for discussions with local experts there.

Csobor said she has enjoyed her time in Iowa so far, emphasizing her impression that people here are open and friendly.

“I hope that God will prevent this beautiful state from having floods again,” she said. “I wish for Iowans to stay friendly and cheerful — it will help them face issues.”


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