Sirens wail, loudspeaker trucks drive through the night – in western Germany the continuous rain made for a dramatic night. A dam threatened to overflow in Wuppertal. Two firefighters died in action.
In action against the effects of the latest storms, two firefighters in the Märkisches Kreis were killed. Heavy rain caused floods, floods and power outages in many parts of North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland. According to the forecast by the German Weather Service (DWD), the extreme continuous rain should subside on Thursday night. But in many places the clean-up work should now begin. North Rhine-Westphalia’s Prime Minister Armin Laschet (CDU) wants to visit the Ruhr area city of Hagen, which is particularly affected by flooding, on Thursday. In Rhineland-Palatinate, schools are to remain closed in the Vulkaneifel district and in the Kordel community in the Trier-Saarburg district.
Firefighter drowns while rescuing a man
Deep ‘Bernd’ determines the weather in Germany with warm, humid air masses. According to the DWD, it will remain changeable in the next few days with showers and thunderstorms, sometimes with heavy rain. This led to alarms in many places on Wednesday: there were landslides, streets were flooded, cellars overflowed and rail and road traffic were disrupted.
In Altena in the Sauerland, a 46-year-old firefighter was killed while rescuing a man after the heavy rain. He was swept away by the masses of water and drowned. A spokesman for the police in the Märkischer Kreis confirmed this on Wednesday. Just two hours later, a 52-year-old firefighter collapsed while working in the area of the Werdohl-Elverlingsen power plant. The police said he died on Wednesday evening despite resuscitation and relief measures. The police assume a health emergency. In Altena – as in many other places – cellars and streets were flooded. The Lenne river, which overflowed its banks, exacerbated the situation there. The water ran into the city center. Altena was ‘practically unavailable’, the police said in the afternoon.
Rain, rain, rain – scenes of the flood in western Germany
People have to leave houses
In Hückeswagen in the Oberbergisches Kreis, the Bevertalsperre overflowed due to the heavy rainfall. The water is currently running uncontrollably over the edge of the dam, said a spokesman for the control center on Thursday morning. More than 1000 people had to leave their homes. After enormous rainfall, the authorities in the Bergisches Land feared an uncontrolled overflow of the Wupper dam near Radevormwald. According to a spokesman for the Oberbergischer Kreis control center, fire brigade forces can now drain the water in a controlled manner. For security reasons, the residents of the Wupper in Radevormwald were asked to leave their apartments late in the evening, including with loudspeaker announcements. A care center was set up in a primary school in Radevormwald for those affected.
Several houses and an animal shelter were evacuated in Solingen-Unterburg early Thursday morning due to the flood. The water inflow is currently unabated, as a spokesman for the Wuppertal police headquarters announced. Accordingly, the water is currently being drained by fire fighters, which affects the urban area. The residents could be accommodated in emergency shelters and some with friends.
Deutsche Bahn: ‘Please postpone trips to and from NRW’
In Wuppertal too, heavy rains caused the Wupper to rise and the streets flooded. As a police spokesman announced early Thursday morning, some roads on the valley axis along the Wupper were closed. Residents were therefore asked not to stay in the basement, but to move to higher-lying apartments. Despite the announced tidal wave, the storm situation in the city is still manageable, the spokesman said. The fire brigade pointed out on Twitter ahead of time to limit the consumption of drinking water as a precaution. The water supply is also affected by a power failure.
Deutsche Bahn advised all rail travelers to bypass North Rhine-Westphalia as far as possible. ‘Please postpone trips to and from NRW to the next few days if possible,’ it said in a message. On Wednesday, operations were stopped on numerous railway lines. The railway reported, among other things, of delays and cancellations of trains between Cologne and Düsseldorf and between Cologne and Wuppertal. The routes between Cologne and Koblenz were not passable on either side of the Rhine. ICE trains between Frankfurt and Brussels only ran between Frankfurt and Cologne.
In Rhineland-Palatinate, the Vulkaneifel district declared a disaster after heavy rains and floods. ‘The situation is very serious, we have many flooded streets and towns that can no longer be reached,’ said District Administrator Julia Gieseking in Daun on Wednesday evening. The schools in the district should remain closed on Thursday. ‘I appeal to the population that everyone stay at home and protect themselves from the masses of water,’ said Gieseking.
The dam of the Steinbachtalsperre is in danger of breaking
In Euskirchen, the dam of the Steinbachtalsperre threatened to break due to the storm on Thursday morning. Therefore, the Autobahn 61 between Bliesheim and Meckenheim was completely blocked, the police said. The A61 had previously been closed because the motorway had been flooded by water. The Technical Relief Organization (THW) and the police are on site to observe the dam. Traffic will be diverted to the A565.