Many helping hands are already clearing up mud and debris. But the risk of flooding has not yet been averted in Bavaria. At the same time, an improvement in disaster control is discussed.
While there is no acute risk of storms in western Germany for the time being, there are still anxious glances at some places. Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer (CSU) is visiting the areas in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate particularly affected by the flood disaster and major destruction this Monday. For example, he is expected at the Steinbachtalsperre in Euskirchen, where a dam failure was still not ruled out recently. In Bavaria, the flood situation in the south and east of the state remained tense, but did not worsen during the night. In Passau, the levels rose into the night, but then remained at a high level.
At least reassuring: on the night of Monday there were no more severe weather warnings from the German Weather Service (DWD) in force. The meteorologists predicted that the rains in the Alps would subside at night. Thunderstorms cannot be ruled out during the day in Bavaria. Overall, however, Germany is facing a relatively calm period of weather in the next few days with quite dry air.
Almost 160 people were killed
The number of confirmed fatalities due to the devastating floods in Germany rose to almost 160 over the weekend. In the district of Ahrweiler in Rhineland-Palatinate, the police reported 110 deaths, while the number in North Rhine-Westphalia had risen to 46. In addition, at least one person was killed in Upper Bavaria. It is the worst flood disaster in Germany in decades. It had rained unusually hard in the middle of the week, especially in western Germany. Many houses, streets and bridges are in ruins.
In Erftstadt-Blessem, according to experts, there is still an acute danger to life near a demolition edge, as District Administrator Frank Rock announced after a conversation with the local experts on Sunday. The stability of the subsoil after the storm in the particularly affected district must continue to be checked. The floods created a huge crater in Blessem, and at least three residential buildings and part of the historic castle collapsed.
In Passau in the very south-east of Germany, the water level of the Danube rose only slightly on Monday night and then remained below the mark of 8.50 meters, from which the highest flood warning level applies. The promenade and parking lots were already flooded, residents protected houses with sandbags and barriers. In the Berchtesgadener Land in Upper Bavaria, the force of the water had already struck at full speed on the weekend because the river Ache overflowed its banks. More than 160 people had to be brought from their homes to safety in the holiday region around the Königssee, as a spokeswoman for the district office said on Sunday evening.
Seehofer visits disaster areas
In western Germany, Seehofer wants to get an idea of the work of the Technical Relief Organization (THW) on site. It is subordinate to the Federal Ministry of the Interior. According to the information, the organization has 2,500 helpers in the flood areas to bring people to safety, pump out basements, ensure the power supply and remove piles of rubble.
Seehofer is expected at the Steinbachtalsperre in Euskirchen (North Rhine-Westphalia) in the late morning. There had been a setback there because the water drained more slowly than expected. This Monday morning, experts want to decide when people in the evacuated areas will be allowed to return to their homes. The Euskirchen fire brigade denied rumors about the break of the dam on Sunday evening.
Around noon, Seehofer wants to go to Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler (Rhineland-Palatinate) to visit a hospital. THW has installed a drinking water treatment system there so that the hospital can continue to get the drinking water it needs. This became necessary after the masses of water damaged the pipes in the vicinity of the clinic.
After Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) and Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Seehofer is another federal politician who travels to the disaster area to assure the people there of his support.
Debate about improving civil protection
Federal Minister of Economics, Peter Altmaier, has meanwhile asked for an explanation as to whether the disaster control has worked adequately. ‘As soon as we have provided immediate help, we must also look: Are there things that did not go well, are there things that went wrong? And then it has to be corrected, ‘said the CDU politician on Sunday in the’ Bild live ‘political talk’ The right questions’. ‘It’s not about pointing the blame, it’s about improving for the future.’
The head of the Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Aid (BBK), Armin Schuster, defended disaster control against criticism. ‘Our warning infrastructure worked in the federal government,’ said Schuster on Sunday evening in the ZDF’s ‘heute journal’. ‘The German Weather Service issued a relatively good warning.’ The problem is that it is often not possible to say half an hour in advance which place it will hit with which amount of rain. 150 warning messages were sent via warning apps. Where the people in the flood areas had been warned by sirens and where not, he could not say at the moment.
North Rhine-Westphalia’s Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU) said on the program that one would have to think about how to improve warning systems and how to reach those who do not have an app. Also, when it comes to coordinating disaster relief, ‘there is probably still a lot to be done’. The minister, however, refused to centralize civil protection in Berlin.
FDP parliamentary group vice Michael Theurer, however, sees serious failures in civil protection. ‘The timely warnings from the meteorologists have not been adequately communicated to the citizens either by the authorities or by public broadcasters,’ said Theurer of the German press agency. ‘The picture is of a major system failure for which the Federal Minister of the Interior Seehofer bears direct personal responsibility.’
The SPD health politician Karl Lauterbach said: ‘We are just as poorly prepared for disaster control as we are for pandemic protection.’ Lauterbach told the ‘Rheinische Post’: ‘We now have to prepare and prepare for the fact that there will be more natural disasters in the future and regular pandemics. The infrastructure for this must be created and expanded, and disaster control is of central importance here. ‘