I will be sharing some updates from various media around the world regarding the devastating floods that have hit parts of western Germany in July 2021.
- The Guardian “The catastrophic flash floods have left thousands of people in western Germany without access to drinking water, electricity and gas. The full extent of damage to the area’s infrastructure has only emerged since the waters fully subsided over the last few days.”
- Der Spiegel “At least 175 people died because of the flooding in the states of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia. Hundreds are injured, many are still missing. These catastrophic numbers raise a potentially explosive question for politicians: Could these people still be alive if they had been warned, and actions had been taken, in time.”
- Deutsche Welle “Improving infrastructure and water management systems won’t help if people don’t know how to react when faced with a wall of water. Which is why Lehmann, the hydraulic engineering expert at the Technical University of Darmstadt, stressed the need for an increased public awareness.”
- Global News “Local authorities “tried very quickly to react,” he said. “But this was an explosion of the water in moments. … You can have the very best preparations and warning situations (but) if warning equipment is destroyed and carried away with buildings, then that is a very difficult situation.” Cellphone networks also were knocked out by flooding.”
- CBC “Weather officials had forecast the downpours that led to even small rivers swelling rapidly, but warnings of potentially catastrophic damage didn’t appear to have made it to many people in affected areas. Federal and state authorities faced criticism from opposition politicians for allegedly failing to warn citizens of the impending disaster, which comes as a national election looms in September”
- Clean Energy Wire “The extreme weather in southern Germany and before that in North Rhine-Westphalia is partly a result of climate change, he said . As the Earth warms up, the atmosphere can absorb more water vapour. Germany has already warmed up by around 2 degrees Celsius since the beginning of industrialisation. With an average of 19 degrees Celsius, June in Germany was already 3.6 degrees warmer than the reference period average. “Our rain radar analysis of the past 20 years shows: Heavy rain events can occur anywhere in Germany because they are due to the chaotic system,” Friedrich noted.”
- Newsbeezer “After the severe storm in West Germany, the Bundeswehr deployed hundreds of soldiers to support the emergency services. Helicopters and armored transport vehicles of the Fuchs type are also in use, said a spokesman for the Defense Ministry in Berlin.”
- Aljazeera “Rescue operations were hampered by blocked roads and phone and internet outages across the Eifel, a volcanic region of rolling hills and small valleys. Some villages were reduced to rubble as old brick and timber houses couldn’t withstand the sudden rush of water, often carrying trees and other debris as it gushed through narrow streets.”
- Wall Street Journal “Major flooding across Germany and Europe last week was caused by a cold, low-pressure area that German scientists have dubbed Bernd. As the weather system slowly swept across the continent on Wednesday and Thursday, unusually high amounts of precipitation occurred over a limited area, causing rivers and sewage systems to overflow.”
- New York Times “Dozens of communities were left without power, while some villages were cut off entirely, the police said. Telephone and cellphone networks were also down, making it more difficult for the authorities to establish who was missing.”
Vancouver, August 9th, 2021 – After terrible flash floods in western Europe that started July 13, 2021, hundreds of people died, over 200,000 homes were left without electricity and according to AP News, the “flooding caused damage worth 1.3 billion euros ($1.5 billion) to its network”.
The main “lessons learned” from this devastating disaster were learning how to use the data from the “Europe-wide Flood Alert System” effectively and how to reach more people before a disaster strikes. Some people received no warnings at all and some people received a warning in the middle of the night and were given almost no time to react. The BBC writes: “Andreas Friedrich, a spokesman for the German weather service, said many people were not aware of how critical situations could become after weather warnings.”
Other challenges were how to reach people who had no Internet or power and how to rescue thousands of people at the same time. Finally, the issue is how to rebuild and ensure that people get the support they need. And all of this is happening with Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany over 15 years, stepping down and an election looming in the fall. The floods, the handling of the floods and climate change will definitely be a large part of the election campaigns.
There are numerous ways that you can support victims of the flooding. One is through the Red Cross: https://www.drk.de/hochwasser and another is:
German Flood Relief Fund
Checks (no cash, please) should be made payable to:
c/o Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany
4645 Reservoir Road, NW
Washington, DC 20007
Contributions may also be made directly to the fund at Riggs Bank, account no. 25445962.
The American Red Cross is also taking donations for its European Flood Relief fund through its Web site, www.redcross.org and the telephone hotline number 1-800-HELP-NOW.