Floods in Western and Central Europe in 2021

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Floods in Western and Central Europe in 2021
Floods in Western and Central Europe in 2021
Flooded town center of Kordel after the stormy night, July 15, 2021
storm Heavy rain with subsequent floods
General weather situation Trough weather situation, NOZZF
Data
Beginning Beginning of July 2021
consequences
affected areas Belgium , Germany , France , Great Britain , Italy , Croatia , Luxembourg , Netherlands , Austria , Romania , Switzerland , Slovakia , Czech Republic , Hungary
Event overview in the northern main area (PDF in English)

The flooding in Western and Central Europe in 2021 is a natural disaster with severe flash floods or flooding in several river areas in Central Europe in the summer of 2021. Parts of Belgium , the Netherlands , Austria , Switzerland , Germany and other neighboring countries were particularly affected . The worst floods were caused by the Bernd low pressure area .

Since the beginning of July 2021 came from France and the Piedmont warm gusty winds and then with the upper low from the north, a cool wind flow to Central Europe . This resulted in a large, relatively fixed low pressure area due to a trough weather situation . A very large amount of precipitation fell on the regions of East Belgium , North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate and then on the Jura - Central Alps and later in areas of the Eastern Alps and the Balkans . Heavy rain , severe thunderstorms and strong hailstorms hit the French regions Grand Est and Auvergne Rhône-Alpes , the Northwestern Switzerland , the Ticino , Bavaria and Saxony as well as other areas. In many places there were floods on rivers, streams and lakes, there was very high damage to property and many fatalities were to be mourned. The water levels of some bodies of water reached similar highs as during the Alpine flood in 2005 and the flood in Switzerland in 2007 or exceeded them. After about a week, the low pressure area lay over the Eastern Alps, where it slowly filled up and led to severe flooding in Bavaria and Austria .

The flood events took a different course in the various affected regions. While the heavy rainfall in some mountain regions quickly led to an enormous swelling of the rivers and caused a rapidly increasing but only brief flooding on the lower reaches, the water collected in other places such as the lakes at the edge of the Alps in Switzerland and in flat areas on the lower reaches of the large rivers like the Meuse slowly and steadily and only reached their highest water levels after a few days. The tidal waves in some valleys subsided after a few hours, while elsewhere the flooding lasted for weeks. The flood had a particularly devastating effect in the northeast of the Eifel , where villages on the Ahr , on the upper part of the Erft , on the Nette (Middle Rhine) and Nitzbach , on the Rur and on its tributaries Inde , Merzbach , Vichtbach and Wurm were devastated . Many houses were washed away, swept away and damaged by the floods; Roads, bridges and other important infrastructure facilities were destroyed.

Over 215 people died in the flood disaster , at least 184 of them in Germany (see list in the article section on Germany ) . In terms of the number of victims, the flood is the worst natural disaster in Germany since the storm surge in 1962 . In some of the affected states, the huge damage made enormous aid and rescue measures necessary. The insurance company Aon is assuming damage of more than ten billion US dollars .

backgrounds

prehistory

While heat and drought prevailed from 2018 to 2020 ( drought and heat in Europe in 2018 and heat waves in Europe in 2019 ), there were first floods in some affected areas at the beginning of the year in 2021. For example, the Rhine overflowed its banks in January and February. In the months of May and June, weather conditions determined by low pressure on the northern edge of the Alps had repeatedly led to continuous rain . Several times, especially in the catchment area of ​​the Rhine, there were severe weather events with strong thunderstorms and large hailstorms. On June 22, a debris flow in the center of the municipality of Cressier in the canton of Neuchâtel caused major damage. As a result, there was already a risk of flooding in some bodies of water at the beginning of July.

weather condition

The low Bernd was the starting point for the storm situation over Belgium and Germany between July 14th and 17th . The low was bordered to the west and east between two high pressure areas. This combination led warm and humid air from the Mediterranean to Central Europe, which led to extensive rainfall. The main reason for the large amounts of local precipitation was the slow movement of the low. Warm and humid air masses from the east were merged with milder air in the west through the low. So the warm, moister air pushed over the cooler one. The moisture contained in the warm air layer then rained off. The unusually slow movement of the low resulted in high amounts of precipitation in the same place. The subsequent high pressure area, which shifted from the British Isles to Central Europe, shifted the precipitation towards southern Germany and Austria.

Influence of climate change

Extreme weather events such as heat extremes , droughts , extreme precipitation and strong tropical storms are occurring more and more frequently due to man-made global warming . A large number of climate researchers and IPCC authors such as Stefan Rahmstorf , Friederike Otto , Sonia Seneviratne , Reto Knutti and Ed Hawkins and meteorologists such as Özden Terli and Karsten Schwanke therefore name climate change as a major contributing and reinforcing factor for severe weather. The German Meteorological Service emphasizes, however, that there is no general answer as to whether climate change has intensified a particular storm. Particularly in the case of extreme events that rarely occur, it is particularly important to consider a very long period of time. Analyzes of the past 70 years based on daily data have shown that the intensity and frequency of days of heavy precipitation in Germany have increased. However, the strongest signals of change were seen for the winter. There is still no clear picture for the summer. However, model calculations showed a tendency towards an increase in the frequency and intensity of heavy precipitation in the future.

For the occurrence of floods, it is particularly important that warmer air can absorb more water (→  air humidity # temperature ), which then rains down again. According to Özden Terli, global warming also temporarily weakens the jet stream , which means that weather conditions such as highs and lows remain largely in the same place for a long time instead of moving on. This exacerbates their regional effects, for example heavy rain events or the heat wave at the end of June in North America . According to a study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters in 2021 , storms with serious consequences with advancing climate change are to be expected several times more frequently due to the slow movement and high saturation of the low pressure areas in Europe. Hayley Fowler , climatologist at Newcastle University , said: "We assume that the polar amplification is the reason for the slow movement and the long dwell time of the storms in summer and autumn." As early as the late 1980s, the first were still predicting quite simple climate models with advancing global warming an increase in heavy precipitation with a simultaneous decrease in light precipitation events. According to Stefan Rahmstorf, this development can now also be seen in measurement data. Carl-Friedrich Schleussner, research group leader at the Geographical Institute of the Humboldt University in Berlin , stated that in 2021 “the question no longer arises as to whether climate change has contributed”. The only question left is “how much” he has contributed (→  allocation research ). Regarding the question of whether a change in the length of stay of individual weather conditions can be ascertained in the context of climate change, the German Weather Service points out that an evaluation of the state of knowledge about so-called blocking weather conditions does not lead to a clear assessment of the corresponding trends. Natural variability would dominate for the next few decades, so the conclusion. Furthermore, various studies have been devoted to the question of whether the greater rise in temperature in the Arctic could lead to changes in the behavior of weather conditions. The assumption that the changed temperature differences between high and middle latitudes would have an impact on the properties of the jet stream running around the North Pole and that this mechanism would also influence the persistence of weather conditions in the middle latitudes could not be confirmed by inventory of the existing studies.

Local influencing factors

In the badly hit Ahr valley ( district of Ahrweiler ) there were already severe floods in 1601, 1804 and 1910, whereby according to research by the biologist Wolfgang Büchs, the current flood “overshadows everything that has been before”. In response to the flood of 1910, large-scale rain retention basins with a capacity of 11.5 million cubic meters were planned in the 1920s in the upper reaches of the Ahr, on the Trierbach, in the Wirftbachtal and on the Adenauer Bach. Due to a lack of money, the plans were not implemented and the Nürburgring was built instead . The situation was exacerbated by the fact that streams were straightened during the land consolidation in the 1970s and drainage channels were created in the vineyards, through which precipitation on the slopes is discharged vertically, so that the water level in the valley increases rapidly. The federal government and the state of Rhineland-Palatinate had promoted renaturation measures in the Ahr valley in recent years . According to Wolfgang Büchs, these were sensible measures, but they are only effective against ordinary floods. Due to the special topography of the Ahr valley with impermeable slate rock with silicates as typical rock, rain retention basins - also in the side valleys - are the only effective measure against extreme rain events.

Karsten Schwanke describes how the amounts of rain in the Eifel could cause severe damage: The water was channeled through the low mountain range there and led to rapidly rising water levels in the smaller streams, which in turn contributed to the flooding. The starting point was saturated soils due to a very wet spring and the Bernd low , whose cloud masses rained out over the low mountain ranges in the region and led to "intense rainfall of 150 to 200 liters per square meter within 48 hours". At several stations, for example in Rheinbach - Todenfeld or Cologne-Stammheim , more than 150 millimeters / liter per m² of precipitation were measured within 24 hours - between 14 and 15 July 2021, at 8 a.m. in each case, in the north of Rhineland- Palatinate up to 148 millimeters, which is significantly more than the average amount of rain in the entire month of July. The 154 millimeters in Stammheim was the highest value ever measured in Cologne within 24 hours and far exceeded the previous peak value of the last 75 years (95 millimeters). In addition, it was an unusual event in that on such a large area - from the Sauerland to the Bergisches Land and Cologne to the Eifel - more than 100 millimeters of rain fell, which had never been observed in the previous decades. The flood hit the Rhine area the hardest. Never before has there been so much rainfall here since weather records began. In Belgium, too, there were several record readings, ranging from 190 to 270 liters per square meter of rainfall within 48 hours.

Other factors that can aggravate the situation during heavy rainfall are land sealing , deforestation , parched soils and missing or incorrectly dimensioned flood protection measures , among others. on low mountain streams that have rarely appeared as a risk up to now. In some cases it is no longer possible to determine how high the water levels were, as measuring devices had stopped reporting data. Either these were not designed for the water levels reached or were destroyed by the water.

affected areas

Belgium

Damage in the Belgian Pepinster

In Belgium , the Walloon region , the francophone and German-speaking parts of the country, were affected (including places on the Meuse and its tributaries). On July 15, the state infrastructure operator Infrabel announced the suspension of rail traffic in the entire region. There was a risk of flooding in the entire province of Liège and in parts of the provinces of Luxembourg , Namur and Walloon Brabant . In Liège, the Royal Meteorological Institute (KMI) in the municipality of Jalhay measured 271.5 millimeters (271.5 liters per square meter) of rain in 48 hours. In the same period, the municipality of Spa fell 217.1 millimeters (mm) and Mont Rigi 192.4 mm of rain. Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden had the EU civil protection procedure activated. The neighboring country France announced the sending of helpers to the province of Liège. In the area of ​​the German-speaking Community, the Our overflowed its banks and flooded the village of Ouren , which belongs to Burg-Reuland . At least 36 people died in Belgium. Other people are missing (as of July 25, 12:12 a.m.). Several houses collapsed, in Pepinster alone - at the confluence of the Weser and Ourthe - there were at least twelve. At times around 20,000 people were without electricity, and drinking water was also contaminated. In Eupen was TNT -Sprengstoff stranded; an area was evacuated before it was defused.

On July 24th, there was another severe storm in the province of Namur .

Germany

Overview of the fatalities in Germany
country area number
Rhineland-PalatinateRhineland-Palatinate Rhineland-Palatinate Ahrweiler district 132
Eifelkreis Bitburg-Prüm 1
North Rhine-WestphaliaNorth Rhine-Westphalia North Rhine-Westphalia District of Euskirchen 27
City of Rheinbach (Rhein-Sieg district) 6th
Municipality of Swisttal (Rhein-Sieg district) 3
City of Geilenkirchen (Heinsberg district) 2
City of Cologne 2
State capital Düsseldorf 1
City of Solingen 1
City of Kamen (district of Unna) 1
City of Werdohl (Märkischer Kreis) 1
City of Altena (Märkischer Kreis) 1
not assigned 3
BavariaBavaria Bavaria Region Berchtesgaden 1
Baden-WuerttembergBaden-Wuerttemberg Baden-Wuerttemberg Heilbronn district 1
SaxonySaxony Saxony Erzgebirgskreis 1
In total 184 at least
Flood in Altenahr - Kreuzberg on July 15, 2021
Flood in Altenahr- Altenburg on July 15, 2021
Damage in Hagen after the storm night, July 15, 2021

In mid-July 2021, the low caused heavy rainfall in several regions of Germany. Within 24 hours, with a focus on July 14, 2021, more than 150 liters of rain per square meter fell in some places. 154 liters in Cologne-Stammheim . The German Weather Service put the return time of such an event at more than 100 years and possibly 1000 years. These rain masses caused severe flooding. North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate were particularly hard hit. Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer triggered the military disaster alarm for the two federal states on July 16, 2021 in order to increase the Bundeswehr's ability to act in terms of disaster relief .

Due to the severe storms, at least 180 people died in both federal states. Five firefighters were also on duty. According to the first inventory, the number of victims was far higher than in the flood of the century in 2002 , when 21 people died in Germany. On July 26th, dozens of people were still missing as a result of the flood, including 74 in the Ahrweiler district . However, 64 dead were still not clearly identified there.

Because the flood reached several substations , the electricity supply companies had to switch off the electricity there. 200,000 people in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate were affected by the power failure. For more than 100,000 people, this continued until at least the afternoon of July 16. Cell phone networks and drinking water supplies had also collapsed in some of the affected areas. As a makeshift safeguard for civilian communication via the Internet, the Starlink project by Elon Musk ( satellite Internet / currently in the test phase ), in consultation with government authorities, is setting up several bowls in the affected regions.

Serious damage was also caused to the railway infrastructure: the railway lines in the Eifel, such as the Cologne – Gerolstein – Trier connection and the Ahr Valley Railway, are particularly hard hit . According to initial estimates, Deutsche Bahn assumes damage of around 1.3 billion euros. Among other things, 180 level crossings, almost 40 signal boxes, over 1000 catenary and signal masts and 600 kilometers of tracks were destroyed, as well as energy supply systems, elevators and lighting systems. According to Deutsche Bahn, around 80 percent of the affected technology should be functional again by the end of 2021; in severely affected regions, it could take years to restart.

As heating oil tanks and pipes were damaged by oil heating systems and gasoline and diesel leaking from wrecked cars, heating oil and fuels spilled into water. In addition, chemicals from industrial and commercial areas found their way into the environment and threatened the water quality on site and in regions further downstream. The Westphalia waterworks subsequently shut down one of their works. There was also a lot of water contaminated with heating oil, which had accumulated in basements and underground garages and whose disposal was a major problem, as it had to be pumped out and cleaned by specialist companies. Destroyed buildings, dwellings and vehicles also resulted in as much garbage and scrap as would otherwise arise in the affected regions in two years.

Rhineland-Palatinate

The district of Ahrweiler was hit particularly hard , where the flooding of the Ahr left a trail of destruction. In the local community of Schuld alone , six houses collapsed, and numerous others were badly damaged. In the district, 62 bridges were destroyed and another 13 badly damaged, and 19 day-care centers and 14 schools suffered damage from the floods. More than 330 people were rescued from roofs and trees with up to 36 helicopters. Twelve residents of the “ Lebenshilfe-Haus ” facility for the disabled died in the town of Sinzig . The floods came faster than the people could have been brought to safety.

A first larger inventory was made 10 days after the flood in Rhineland-Palatinate from at least 17,000 people who had immediately lost property as a result of the flood. Of the more than 3,000 damaged buildings, at least 467 were destroyed, including almost 200 residential buildings. Several kilometers of roads were completely destroyed, the estimates for the damaged roads, paths and bridges on the Ahr were 73.9 kilometers. One directional lane for the crossing of the Ahr crossing at B 9 near Sinzig, which is currently under construction, has sagged due to an underwashed pillar and must now be torn down. At least seven railway bridges and around 20 kilometers of track on the Ahr Valley Railway were destroyed by flooding and undercutting. The trackside repairs are likely to take months. The establishment of a replacement traffic was difficult due to the road conditions.

In the districts of Bitburg-Prüm , Eifel and Trier-Saarburg was disaster declared. The municipality of Kordel was particularly hard hit . Here the Kyll reached a record level of 7.85 meters. But the river of the same name in Prüm also reached record levels on the evening of July 14th with 3.27 meters, the Lieser in Wittlich with 3.63 meters and the Nims in Alsdorf and Bitburg-Stahl the following morning with 3.49 meters. At the Irrel waterfalls , the covered pedestrian bridge and part of the slope were washed away and destroyed by the floods, as was the camping site in Oberweis . On the night of July 20th, a street in Speyer had to be closed due to flooding of the carriageway. Individual traffic was temporarily restricted for the clean-up work and removal of the masses of rubbish.

North Rhine-Westphalia

By July 16, 25 cities and districts in North Rhine-Westphalia were particularly affected by the flood. By this day, according to the Interior Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Herbert Reul , 19,000 emergency services from aid organizations had dealt with 30,000 missions in connection with the flood and the North Rhine-Westphalia police another 3200 missions. In the Bergisches Land , due to the floods, there were power failures and evacuated places (such as Hückeswagen and Leichlingen ) for days . On the night of July 14th, a man drowned in a full cellar in Rösrath .

The drastic consequences of the severe weather catastrophe in West Germany also made themselves felt in Euskirchen , Rheinbach , Swisttal and Erftstadt . Due to the floods and the danger of collapsing the Steinbachtalsperre , it was ordered that several thousand residents in several localities have to leave their homes. The overflowing Erft and Swist flooded large parts of the Erftstadt urban area, several villages were partially or completely evacuated and highways such as the federal highways 1 ( Eifelautobahn ) and 61 as well as the federal road 265 were closed due to the flooding and road damage. In the Erftstadt district of Blessem , the water of the Erft flowed through a residential and commercial area and paved a new way into the pit of the Blessem gravel works; several houses near Blessem Castle were washed down and damaged. The St. Antonius Hospital Eschweiler was completely evacuated; the more than 300 patients were transferred to other hospitals. Most of the correctional facility in Euskirchen was evacuated on July 17th . In the neighboring cities Eschweiler and Stolberg were Marauding arrested. In affected places like Bad Münstereifel there were fatalities and numerous historic houses were destroyed or damaged.

Damage sustained not only on trunk roads but also on many railway lines: at times there was hardly any train traffic in the southern half of North Rhine-Westphalia . Long-distance trains from the north ended, among other things. already in Münster , several regional train lines were canceled. The repair work is ongoing, some routes are still closed. The railway stations in Hagen and Wuppertal and the railway lines running here (including the Wupper line ) are particularly affected . There is still no train service here (as of July 16, 2021, 10:30 p.m.). Also in Bonn on the left Rhine route no trains could run until July 17, 2021 6 p.m. because water in the signal box had interrupted the power supply.

Because the Inde overflowed its banks, the Inden opencast mine was partially flooded and one person was subsequently reported missing.

On July 14th, the Eicherscheid flood retention basin in the Eifel and other retention basins near Horchheim , Weilerswist and Kerpen-Mödrath were opened to reduce runoff in the Erft. The Rheinische Post reported a breach of the dam on the Rur in Wassenberg-Ophoven on July 16, 2021. On July 20, a settlement in Leichlingen in Bergisch was evacuated because of a possible dam breach in Hasensprung.

Baden-Wuerttemberg

In Baden-Württemberg there were floods in many places due to heavy rain. In Tübingen and Reutlingen there were multiple severe hail damage and flooding in June, with the COVID-19 vaccination center in Tübingen being flooded. The Rhine too overflowed its banks. In Karlsbad and Remchingen there were several floods, among other things, the Federal Motorway 8 was flooded around one meter. On Friday evening of July 9th, several streets in Distelhausen in the Taubertal, such as the access road to Lauda, ​​were under water, with the Tauberbischofsheim high water level already showing 3.17 meters by the following Saturday. On July 13th there were again deployments due to heavy local rain, for example in Eppingen and Heilbronn . The Rhine shipping between Iffezheim and Germersheim was also stopped on Wednesday night. This blockage was extended to Mannheim a day later .

Due to the rains, the federal motorway 6 between Viernheimer Dreieck and Mannheim-Sandhofen was undermined and was closed on July 14th because of the damage. In the early evening of July 15, 2021, there was repeated local heavy rain. The southern part of Heilbronn and the municipality of Flein were partially flooded. In Bretten-Ruit , the rain, but not the Salzach , caused the town to be flooded. In Inzlingen , a 17-year-old was rescued after being sucked into an open gully by the floods. On the following Friday morning in the Radolfzell area on Lake Constance there was a power outage of several hours in several places due to a landslide. A person in the Heilbronn district was found dead after falling into the Jagst River .

In addition, the Danube Railway between Ehingen and Munderkingen had to be shut down on the evening of July 16, 2021 after the tracks were flooded under and over. At the same time has Lorch in Ostalbkreis the idol Bach several houses flooded. On the morning of July 17, 2021, the water level at the Maxau des Oberrheins gauge in Karlsruhe had already risen to 8.62 meters, which is why the retention areas in Kehl and the nursing home in the Ortenau district had to be flooded. Part of the route was also closed during the reactivation ceremony of the Biberbahn between Stockach and Mengen on the same day because the embankment was damaged.

Bavaria

In several cities and districts in Northern Bavaria , the disaster was declared on July 10, 2021 . There was a power failure in Wilhermsdorf after a transformer house was flooded. The railway line from Neustadt an der Aisch to Bad Windsheim had to be closed because the tracks were flooded. Numerous streets were under water. In Altmannshausen ( Markt Bibart ) a listed bridge was torn away in parts and was therefore impassable. From July 14th, the drinking water in parts of the districts of Ansbach, Roth and Weißenburg-Gunzenhausen was contaminated with faecal germs after heavy rain and had to be boiled.

Reichenberg near Würzburg was even flooded twice within seven days, namely on July 9th and 15th. In Ansbach, the Rezat rose to a level of 4.29 meters. In addition, this disaster coincided with a bomb found at the Ansbach train station, which also challenged the emergency services.

On the evening of July 17th, places in the Berchtesgadener Land region were flooded after heavy rainfall, whereupon the district declared a disaster. The Berchtesgadener Ache rose to 3.50 meters and thus exceeded the highest level of 3.12 meters in 2012. Since a slope slide was feared in Schönau am Königssee , there and in other places there were evacuations. The Bischofswiesen train station was flooded, the Königssee artificial ice rink with the bobsled run was badly damaged and several streets were temporarily closed due to flooding. The Partnach Gorge in Garmisch-Partenkirchen was also badly damaged .

Hesse

In northern Hesse there were mainly buildings flooding and traffic obstructions. On July 14, 2021, a slope below the road on state road 3215 between Naumburg and Waldeck was washed away, so that the damaged road was closed. On the Rhine, in the south-west of the state, the federal highway 42 between Assmannshausen and Lorch was closed after cracks caused by the flood were discovered, as it was feared that the road would be washed away.

Saarland

In Saarland , too , waters overflowed on the night of July 15, although, according to the Saarbrücken police station, there were only 13 missions by Thursday morning due to street flooding and full cellars compared to other federal states.

Saxony

On July 13, 2021, there was severe flooding in the Vogtland , especially in Plauen and Oelsnitz . In Steinbach (Jöhstadt) in the Erzgebirge district, a man was killed who had been swept away by a flash flood; in Freiberg there was subsidence and a landslide. On July 17th there was severe flooding in Saxon Switzerland ; especially the places Krippen and Bad Schandau were affected. The historic Kirnitzschtalbahn was partially flooded. International rail traffic between Dresden and Prague also had to be interrupted due to mudslides.

Thuringia

At the beginning of June, a local heavy rain event had caused severe flooding in the town of Mosbach near Eisenach in the Wartburg district and caused considerable property damage. On July 13, the Ilm district , the Saale-Orla district and the Saalfeld-Rudolstadt district were particularly affected by violent storms and full cellars. Landslides blocked several roads and rail traffic had to be stopped locally due to storm damage. The federal highway 71 was temporarily closed due to flooding.

France

Flood in Besançon

In eastern France, during the flood event, the flood danger level "Orange" was declared in the twelve departments of Nord , Aisne , Ardennes , Marne , Meuse , Meurthe-et-Moselle , Moselle , Bas-Rhin , Haut-Rhin , Doubs , Jura and Ain . In the course of the events, a warning level applied in other departments .

In the landscape on the Moselle , the area from Metz and Thionville to the Luxembourg border was badly affected. The floods particularly hit the communities of Fixem , Beyren-lès-Sierck , Puttelange-lès-Thionville and Longuyon . Individual villages were evacuated because of the floods and there were numerous road closures. The railway line from Thionville to Luxembourg was interrupted. At Bar-le-Duc the Ornain River and the Canal de la Marne au Rhin overflowed their banks. The prefect of the department of Bas-Rhin Josiane Chevalier ordered , the polder of Erstein , a large detention basin in Strasbourg to open; this made it possible to reduce the runoff of the Rhine, which had risen sharply after the heavy rainfall in Switzerland.

Heavy rainfall fell over the departments of Jura and Doubs and southern Alsace . In the Jura department, part of the village of Bletterans was flooded. In addition, because of the floods of the Orain , a tributary of the Doubs , the village of Chaussain and the camping site near Parcey had to be evacuated because of the flood of the Loue . Departementsstrasse 332 was interrupted. In Montmorot there was only slight flooding because the flood retention basins were able to dampen the tide considerably. In Besançon the Doubs overflowed its banks.

On July 17, 2021, the Seille in the Saone-et-Loire department overflowed its banks and flooded the center of Louhans- Chateaurenaud.

At the confluence of the Saône into the Rhone, both of which led to high water, in the city of Lyon , individual riverside roads were under water. In the alpine departments of Isère and Haute-Savoie , several roads were interrupted due to the storm. The Arve , which comes from the Savoy Pre-Alps and flows into the Rhone near Geneva in Switzerland, caused floods.

Great Britain

After heavy rain, London's streets were turned into raging streams on July 12, 2021. Basements, cars, toilets and shops were flooded.

Italy

The storms also reached eastern northern Italy and caused damage to agricultural crops. In the autonomous region of Trentino-Alto Adige , a fallen tree damaged a cable car, several roads were interrupted and a person was killed in the Veneto region .

Croatia

In Croatia , the region in Western Slavonia in particular had to contend with flooded houses from heavy rain with around 170 liters per square meter on the night of 16-17 July. Among other things, the town of Nova Gradiška was affected. The following afternoon, a storm swept over the Osijek region , tearing a roof off a building, uprooting trees and flooding streets. On July 19, there was again heavy rains that flooded farmland near Našice and cellars and streets in Osijek. There was a power cut in the vicinity of Šipvac . The following night numerous streets in the city of Županja were flooded in a violent storm, which at times dropped up to 183 liters per square meter.

Luxembourg

In the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , too , heavy rain on July 14th and 15th caused numerous rivers to overflow their banks and flood neighboring towns. This affected Hesperingen , Mamer , Vianden and Bettemburg , among others . Parts of the city of Echternach had to be evacuated on July 15, as did residents of several other places (Vianden, Rosport , Steinheim , Born , Bour ). At Bollendorf the level of the Sauer reached 608 centimeters, the second highest value since records began. According to MeteoLux , an average of 60 to 80 liters per square meter had fallen in the country in the previous 24 hours. Serious damage was caused in the lower town of the capital by the Alzette . The kerosene supply to the airport was interrupted due to the damage to a pipeline near Echternacherbrück (Germany) . In addition, on July 16, the communities of Befort , Bissen and Lintgen were contaminated with inedible tap water. On July 17th, the N10 had to be closed due to flooding in Schengen .

The train service from Metz in France to Luxembourg was severely affected and was completely stopped from Thionville. The reason for this was the flooding of the train tunnel near Hagondange . The National Company of French Railways (SNCF) assumed that no trains would be able to run before Monday, July 19, 2021. Many railways and roads in Luxembourg were also closed due to landslides and floods. During the afternoon of July 15, 2021, water levels slowly fell again in many places. The Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel announced aid amounting to 50 million euros.

Netherlands

Flood of the Göhl in the center of Valkenburg aan de Geul , Netherlands

The southern part of the Dutch province of Limburg was particularly hard hit . In the Heuvelland , heavy rain on July 13th and 14th caused streams and small rivers to burst their banks. According to the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), in some places 86 to 98 liters of rain per square meter fell within 24 hours. The resulting floods caused severe damage. Because of the water masses, parts of the A2 , A79 and A76 motorways were closed. On July 15, parts of the city of Roermond , the provincial capital Maastricht , the Maas communities Stein and Eijsden-Margraten and the small town of Valkenburg were evacuated. In mid-July, the Meuse had reached its highest water level in some places since measurements began in 1911. A canal dike broke near Maastricht; In Venlo and the neighboring communities, more than 10,000 people were evacuated on the evening of July 16. A hospital was also evacuated there as a precaution, whereas some of those evacuated the day before were able to return home.

The water level of the Meuse is regulated on Dutch territory by seven barrages . If all steps are opened, the maximum amount of water can drain off.

Austria

Hallein was flooded on the evening of July 17th . Residents had to be evacuated. The city of Salzburg was also hit by heavy rain and floods. In Vienna , cellars and underpasses were flooded. In Kufstein (Tyrol) part of the city was also under water, north of Seefeld in Tyrol there was a mudslide discharge , which is why the federal highway 177 had to be closed there.

Along the Salzach and its side valleys there were mudslides and subsequent floods, with entire settlements and villages having to be evacuated. Railway lines had to be closed because the tracks were under water. In Kuchl (Salzburger Land) the drinking water was contaminated on July 18th. In many places - after continuous rain of up to 170 millimeters - the flood was assessed as the worst in decades. On July 18, there were also numerous fire brigade missions , at the peak there were around 600 missions in Lower Austria alone . After a bridge collapsed, Ferschnitz was temporarily inaccessible. In Neuhofen an der Ybbs the cemetery was flooded, in Ernsthofen the Ennstal route of the ÖBB had to be closed after a rock fall.

Romania

Also, Romania was affected by bad weather. On July 17, for example, the Alba district in the Apuseni Mountains , such as the Roșia Montană municipality in the west of the country, was hit by heavy rain, landslides and floods. In addition, numerous people in four communities had to be evacuated. However, no one was killed in the process. The following day, the Romanian Prime Minister Florin Cîțu visited the affected area and promised quick help. On the evening of July 19, the region around Cluj-Napoca was hit by a strong hailstorm, in which trees were uprooted and several houses were affected by the blackout. In the city of Craiova , in the southwest of the country, the roof of an apartment block was demolished. The following night, numerous districts were again affected by heavy rain, including in the districts of Mureș and Neamț, numerous households were without electricity. Several people across the country were rescued from vehicles and evacuated from flooded houses. The next morning the national road DN1 in Buşteni was blocked by a landslide. According to a video conference by Interior Minister Lucian Bode on July 20, heavy rain in the past few days affected around 80 places in 20 districts, with two deaths in Satu Mare and Iași.

Switzerland

Flood in Bern , July 16, 2021
Rising Aare in Thun (video, July 13, 2021)

A cold front and then the damp winds directed from the high altitude over Belgium and western Germany also reached Switzerland and the central Alpine region via eastern France. Frequent rainfall in the months of May and June 2021 meant that many soils were soaked when the severe weather hit and could therefore no longer absorb much water. In the high Alps, the snowmelt was still going on until mid-July, which is why some rivers already had an elevated water level. After heavy rains for days in the Alps , the Jura and the Swiss Plateau , numerous streams, rivers and lakes have burst their banks in several cantons since July 11, 2021, and landslides and debris flows have occurred in some places. Various towns were flooded and some traffic connections were interrupted. On July 14, the authorities declared the highest danger level for several bodies of water, especially the large lakes at the edge of the Alps . Strong gusts of wind caused major property damage from July 12th to 13th, including in the city of Zurich , as well as disruptions in the transport network.

To flooding and local flooding occurred particularly in the river systems, the Aare , the Reuss , the Limmat and the Rhone and south of the Alps of Ticino . Much water flowed from the Swiss Jura with the Doubs to France and via the Saône also into the Rhone. The Reuss burst its banks on July 13 in the cantons of Uri and Aargau . In Brugg and Gebenstorf where the Reuss and the Limmat flow into the Aare chess country and the Stroppelinsel were under water. On July 16, 2021, the Aare also flooded Bern .

In some communities, roads and bridges have been closed. As a precautionary measure, the canton of Uri closed the A 2 motorway next to the Reuss near Altdorf to traffic. In Hünenberg , the Reuss dam was under observation because of the risk of breakage. The traffic connections to Engelberg were interrupted due to debris flows. A landslide interrupted the Wengernalp Railway between Lauterbrunnen and Wengen on July 18 in the Bernese Oberland . In the canton of Ticino , the main road Bellinzona - Airolo was closed on July 14th due to a rockfall triggered by the storm .

In Lucerne, the Reuss and Lake Lucerne have burst their banks in places. The city was protected from flooding with mobile flood barriers. (Video, July 17, 2021)

In Lucerne , Thun , Bern , Bremgarten , Mellingen , Windisch , Wallbach and other localities along the Reuss, the Aare and the Rhine, the municipalities had the fire brigade and civil defense set up mobile flood protection elements and flood barriers, which had been provided as a precautionary measure since the last serious flood events were. This prevented large-scale flooding in some localities. In many places, however, damage was caused by the rising groundwater. In Brunnen , Stansstad and Küssnacht , parts of the town centers were flooded. The water level in Lake Lucerne reached its highest level of 434.94 m above sea level on the night of July 16-17  , 2021 . M. and began to sink slightly in the following days. At the Badbrücke in Wolhusen , two cars were washed into the Kleine Emme on July 25, 2021 .

The runoff of the waters from the Alps and the Swiss Plateau caused the Rhine to increase significantly below the mouth of the Aare near Koblenz AG . The Birs , which flows out of the Jura, flooded areas near the river near Basel and intensified the flooding of the Rhine. Because of the flooding in the Rhine, the city of Basel had to close the promenades, and on July 13th, shipping on the Rhine below Birsfelden and on the Upper Rhine was suspended. This led to delivery failures in the Basel Rhine ports and delays in freight traffic. Shipping also stopped on Lake Lucerne, Lake Thun and Lake Biel .

Flooding in Yverdon-les-Bains

Because of the inflow from the Aare, the Zihl and the Schüss and due to the Jura water regulation in the Port Regulier weir, Lake Biel rose above the damage limit after several days and overflowed its banks at Nidau and Biel / Bienne . The lake reached an unprecedented high. Then the water began from the Lake Biel, as in the concept of the second Jura water correction provided by the Zihlkanal the west orographic seen backwards in Neuchâtel to flow, the previously still kept no flooding. With the influx from Lake Biel, the water level in Lake Neuchâtel also rose, which eventually flooded the shore region in Yverdon-les-Bains with various sports facilities and a campsite. The water in Lake Biel was also at its highest level at 430.94 m above sea level on the night of July 16-17  . M. and sank rapidly the following day by about 30 centimeters because of the runoff through the Nidau-Büren Canal and the Zihl Canal. When Lake Biel and Lake Neuchâtel had reached the same level, the flood remained stable for a long time and the flooded bank areas were still under water. With the gradual influx of floods, Lake Neuchâtel reached the record high water level of 430.72  m above sea level on July 19, 2021, almost a week after the onset of heavy rain in Switzerland . M. On July 19, the highest warning level and a ban on water sports still applied to Lake Biel. On July 24th, the lake level was 430.34  m above sea level thanks to the runoff to the Aare . M. sank and was still in the upper area of ​​danger level 3. Many building cellars in the vicinity of the lake were still under water due to the sharply increased groundwater level and could not yet be pumped out by the fire brigade. The maritime police and the Office for Water and Waste removed a lot of driftwood from the lake. In order to reduce the lake flood, the Port Regulierwehr, with a special agreement between the cantons concerned and the federal government, continued to allow a higher discharge into the Aare than the inter-cantonal regulation regulations provide.

In the Schaffhausen municipalities of Schleitheim and Beggingen im Randental , the Schleitheimer Bach, which flows through both villages, burst its banks on July 15 as a result of heavy rain and caused great damage.

The first severe storm damage occurred in the Upper Valais in the catchment area of ​​the Rhone . Debris flows hit the village of Oberwald im Goms and buried traffic routes and part of the settlement. The route of the Matterhorn-Gotthard-Bahn and the pass roads over the Grimsel , the Furka and the Nufenenpass were temporarily closed. In Lower Valais, local flooding occurred due to the Rhone floods. The cantonal road Lausanne - Vevey on Lake Geneva was interrupted by a landslide. The lake of Geneva had floods, which were intensified when the discharge at the Seujet dam was temporarily throttled to protect the flood-threatened area downstream. Below the outflow of the Rhone from the lake in Geneva , the floods of the Rhone and those of the Arve tributary from Savoy caused a flood in the Jonction district at the confluence .

Slovakia

Due to the heavy rainfalls in Germany and Austria, but also due to storms on July 18th in their own country, the water levels of the Danube and March rose in Slovakia as well . On the morning of July 19, the Danube in the capital Bratislava had a water level of 7.03 meters and the March in Devínska Nová Ves was around 5.28 meters. The southern districts of the capital and an underpass at the Bratislava University of Economics were particularly affected by flooding .

Czech Republic

The Czech Republic was hit by heavy rains on the evening of July 18, mostly in northern Bohemia . Residents of the Liberec and Ústí nad Labem regions received financial support from the state in the form of emergency aid of a maximum of 57,900 kroner . The communities Dolní Poustevna and Lobendava on the immediate border with Saxony were particularly hard hit . Numerous residents in the communities near Česká Lípa had to be evacuated. In the south-west of Bohemia there was warning level 3 because of the floods from the Otava River .

Hungary

In Hungary , too, heavy rain caused floods in several places across the country, including Győr , Mohács and Kecskemét . In several districts of the capital Budapest, it rained up to 100 millimeters in places within a few hours. The third warning level was declared on the Danube near Nagybajcs .

Consequences for domestic and wild animals

Animals, animal shelters, animal welfare associations and animal owners were also badly affected by the floods in Germany. Many animal species lost their habitat in the floods. On Friday, July 16, 2021, the German Animal Welfare Association expressed its dismay at the devastating storm. It is to be feared that animal shelters and animal lovers are facing enormous challenges that are currently hardly foreseeable. The wild animals were also in great need and so the young animals could not be brought to safety quickly enough. The zoos and animal enclosures were also affected. At the Gertrudenhof adventure farm in Cologne, the animals stood knee-deep in the water. The entire area was submerged and all animals could be saved. The animal shelters, which were not so badly affected by the flood, started aid campaigns at short notice and offered other animal shelters and evacuated animal owners to temporarily take in their four-legged friends.

Numerous animals were missing in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia. Many residents were evacuated from their houses and had to leave some animals behind or were swept away with their animals by the flood. Some animals have since been rescued from the flood by the animal rescuers and brought to safety. Other animals did not survive.

Protection and rescue operations

Mobile flood barriers in Thun
Pumping out the flooded Kinkempois tunnel at the Pont du Pays de Liège bridge in Liège

After Belgium asked for help, the EU civil protection mechanism was activated on July 14, 2021 , whereupon a helicopter and a flood rescue team were dispatched from France to Belgium. In addition, Austria and Italy also offered flood rescue teams. 120 firefighters from Lower Austria alone were deployed in Belgium on July 15 and 16, 2021 with 16 vehicles and 26 lifeboats and helped, especially in Theux, to control the flooded houses until Belgium declared the international mission to be over. 40 French military personnel were deployed in Liège .

The Copernicus Disaster and Crisis Management Service of the EU made detailed satellite maps with situation pictures and forecasts available to the emergency services of all affected areas in Central Europe. The service delivered timely, precise and spatial digital maps to delimit the affected areas and to plan the relief operations. In Germany, the data was sent to the joint reporting and situation center of the federal and state governments (GMLZ).

The Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK), which is responsible for disaster control, issued an alarm via its warning app NINA (“Emergency Information and News App”). The city of Wuppertal switched on its sirens on its own initiative, issued a warning with loudspeaker trucks and initiated a special broadcast on the local radio station, Radio Wuppertal .

In addition to local fire brigades , fire brigades from neighboring districts also supported the affected areas. The Technical Relief Organization (THW) was alerted and was on duty on July 16, 2021 with almost 2,100 workers from around 165 local branches in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate. THW units from five of the eight THW regional associations were brought together. One and a half weeks after the disaster, around 4,000 THW emergency services from all over Germany were deployed in the areas affected by the flooding.

On July 14, 2021, the first applications for administrative assistance were received by the Bundeswehr Territorial Tasks Command , which led to the deployment of up to 900 soldiers in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia. The units provided support especially with heavy clearance equipment, such as recovery and transport tanks, with trucks, boats, ambulances and helicopters.

Political and other reactions

European Union

The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen promised aid to the Member States concerned , namely Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

Belgium

In Belgium, on July 16, 2021, a national day of mourning was proclaimed by Prime Minister Alexander De Croo for July 20, 2021 (one day before Belgium's national holiday ) , as this was likely to be the “most catastrophic flooding” the country has ever experienced. A minute's silence was ordered from 12:01 p.m. to 12:02 p.m.

Germany

The Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia Armin Laschet , Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the Prime Minister of Rhineland-Palatinate Malu Dreyer personally got a picture of the situation in the disaster areas. Chancellor Angela Merkel , who was on a state visit to Washington, DC at the time, thanked the many helpers for their commitment and said her sympathy goes to the relatives of the dead and missing. After her return from the United States , she visited the Ahr Valley and the local community of Schuld, accompanied by Malu Dreyer. There she stated that the federal government would have the course of the flood disaster investigated and provide financial aid for the regions affected by it; In addition, politicians will have to pay more attention to nature and the climate in the future than before.

Bavaria's Prime Minister Markus Söder also promised help for the affected countries. The Deputy Prime Minister of Rhineland-Palatinate, Anne Spiegel ( Greens ), traveled to the flood events in Trier and Kordel . The example of Trier-Ehrang has shown, according to Spiegel, that the flood protection measures of the state and those of the municipalities are not sufficient. Chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock (Greens) traveled to the affected areas on July 16. In doing so, however, she refrained from being accompanied by representatives of the press in order not to give the impression that she was campaigning . The situation there was too serious for that, it was said from party circles.

The AfD's climate policy spokesman, Karsten Hilse , saw the heavy rain that led to the floods as a “natural phenomenon”. Man-made emissions would not have played a role. There have always been "devastating catastrophes" in the historical past, he condemns that other parties are now exploiting people's suffering to pursue their own political goals.

On July 16, 2021, the German Association of Towns and Municipalities called for rapid help from the federal and state governments. Shortened planning procedures for climate and disaster control projects are also necessary .

In view of the disaster, the Federation for Environment and Nature Conservation Germany called for a consistent expansion of ecological flood protection in order to prevent such dimensions in the future. Flooded areas would have to be consistently designated for this and may not be built on, used for agriculture or sealed by road construction. Intact floodplains should be protected from human interference in order to function as a natural barrier in the event of flooding . For effective protection, extensive renaturation would have to take place, including both flowing water and bogs. For these measures, the BUND suggests that the federal government should immediately provide funds for ecologically acceptable renaturation measures through the state governments. The ecological flood protection should not only be limited to the large rivers, but should also include smaller rivers in order to significantly reduce flood damage in the future.

Various associations and organizations called for donations for the victims. The Germany's Relief Coalition , an alliance of all major German aid organizations, launched a fundraising campaign for flood victims.

According to the German Hotel and Restaurant Association (DEHOGA), some tourists have canceled bookings in unaffected parts of the country because, for example, the entire Rhineland-Palatinate was considered a disaster area. Some businesses in the affected areas, such as in the Moselle valley , had already been reopened. However, DEHOGA President Gereon Haumann assumes that there will be almost no guests in the badly hit Ahrweiler district within the next twelve months.

Luxembourg

On July 16, Grand Duke Henri, together with Interior Minister Taina Bofferding and the head of the Grand Ducal Fire and Rescue Corps Paul Schroeder, visited the flood-hit areas in Vianden and Echternach and spoke to both the local mayors and residents of the communities.

According to the ministry and the Ministry of Economic Affairs for Labor, companies that were affected by the storms on July 14th and 15th can apply for short-time working online from July 27th to 31st .

According to the Luxembourg Sport Fishermen's Association (FLPS), fish died in many places after the floods because aquatic animals could no longer find their way to the streams and rivers.

Other countries in the European Union

France , Italy and Austria offered rescue teams to help Belgium. France sent assistance to Belgium.

The Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki had offered help to Germany and Belgium on July 17, while President Andrzej Duda had already expressed his condolences the day before. The Hungarian President János Áder and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán also offered support and help for Germany . The castle in Bratislava , Slovakia , was illuminated in the colors of the German flag as a sign of solidarity .

Switzerland

Federal President Guy Parmelin visited Biel / Bienne and Lucerne and got an idea of ​​the situation. Federal Councilor Simonetta Sommaruga got an idea of ​​the Aare in Bern, for example in the Matte district .

International

On behalf of the government, Minister Fidelis Leite Magalhães expressed the solidarity of East Timor with Germany and Belgium and expressed his condolences to those affected. East Timor itself was hit by a flood in April . There were other expressions of condolences and sympathy, among others. from the Norwegian King Harald V , the President of the United States, Joe Biden , the Russian President Vladimir Putin , the British Prince William and his wife Duchess Kate or from the President's Office and Foreign Ministry of Taiwan .

The city hall of Tel Aviv-Jaffa shines in German colors as a sign of solidarity.

The chairman of the Turkish Red Crescent Kerem Kınık calls on citizens of Turkish origin to support the German Red Cross .

criticism

storm warning

International experts expressed criticism that despite a warning of extreme flooding by the European Flood Awareness System (EFAS), the number of deaths was so high. The contingency plans of some municipalities are proving inadequate given the severity of floods and flash floods, while others have been taken completely unprepared.

At the beginning of calendar week 28, EFAS issued an “extreme flood warning ”. Four days before the most devastating floods, the governments of the Federal Republic and Belgium officially warned of flooding on the Rhine and Meuse . On July 14, 2021, precise forecasts and maps were sent to the German authorities as to which districts would be affected by floods. These included the areas on the Ahr, where more than 93 people later died from the floods.

The German Weather Service (DWD) said it had forwarded the warnings to the responsible local authorities, who are responsible for any evacuations. While siren alarms were triggered in some communities , most districts are no longer equipped with the appropriate devices. In the Rheinisch-Bergisch district sirens, media reports have even been deliberately not activated to avoid "panic".

In addition, in Germany the DWD and BBK issued their own reports - in particular as push messages via warning apps such as NINA  - including warnings in the highest risk category for the Eifel and Moselle . However, these notifications did not reach many of those affected, as they can only be received by smartphone owners who had actively installed a warning app. Of IT experts has been criticized for that, unlike many other European countries, the service in Germany Cell broadcast is not used to warn the population in case of disasters, even though the Directive (EU) 2018/1972 (EECC Directive) recommends the use of such "digital sirens" since 2018 (see also civil defense signals in Germany ).

Civil protection

International experts criticized large gaps in disaster control and inadequate civil protection in Germany . The hydrologist Hannah Cloke from the UK University of Reading made serious allegations against civil protection in Germany. The warning of the European flood warning system was in the "extreme category", which meant danger to life . It was therefore the responsibility of the national authority to respond accordingly. With information this clear, the authorities would normally prepare for evacuation . “This is how disaster risk management works,” she told the Belgian weekly Politico . Cloke sees failure on several levels in Germany: there is a lack of a nationwide uniform approach to flood risks, different flood plans are needed for different scenarios. Cloke told Politico : "I would have expected people to be evacuated - and not that so many people would die in a flood in 2021."

It was criticized that evacuations in Germany were carried out very late, if at all. In Liège, Belgium, as well as in several endangered towns in Luxembourg, however, the authorities had implemented prophylactic evacuations. In the district of Ahrweiler, the local authorities issued the first warning when the Ahr had already reached its record height of three meters. Less than three hours after this first warning, the district declared a state of emergency. Uwe Kirsche from the German Weather Service (DWD) told the New York Times that the warnings had reached the local authorities, but the question was why they had not evacuated earlier. The transnational flood portal (a service to inform the population about flood situations in Germany and Switzerland) warned of rising water levels both on the Internet and via an app . However, there was at least one case in which the water levels forecast by the portal, which were well above the so-called century flood of 2016, were beyond the imagination of a responsible mayor and it was believed that no evacuation was necessary. This was also due to the fact that in his municipality of Mayschoss an expert opinion on heavy rain and flood protection had been drawn up only a few years earlier, in which lower maximum water levels had been assumed and the municipality had taken protective measures based on this.

The mayor of the badly affected community of Trier-Land , Michael Holstein, criticized the inadequate equipment of the disaster control. The flood disaster showed that the emergency services were underfunded, he told Südwestrundfunk. In Kordel, the emergency services only came to the scene in sufficient numbers with the help of the Bundeswehr. Heavy equipment to clear the numerous landslides is not available in the region and only arrived in Kordel after a two-hour drive from the north of Rhineland-Palatinate. Since even more flood disasters are to be expected in the future, he called for more personnel and equipment for civil protection on site.

reporting

There was also criticism of the flood reporting by Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR). While the catastrophe in North Rhine-Westphalia occurred during the night, the WDR broadcast a documentary about the Summer Olympics and only sporadically informed about the flood situation for about three hours. A ticker tape was only faded in at around 1:20 a.m. Thomas Lückerath criticized this in the online magazine DWDL.de in the highly regarded commentary article: "Failure to provide assistance: WDR lets the West down". The WDR later stated that it had not been able to broadcast from the studio in Wuppertal because it had been affected by the storm itself. At the same time, the broadcaster admitted that the coverage was inadequate. The RTL reporter Susanna Ohlen came under fire because she smeared her face with mud as part of a report in Bad Münstereifel .

Impact on the COVID-19 pandemic

After the floods, concerns arose over an increase in the number of COVID-19 infections in the affected regions, not least against the background of the collapsed medical infrastructure; so are z. B. numerous general practices have been destroyed. In addition, the risk of infection increases in connection with the relief operations and the accommodation in emergency shelters, as this brings many people close together. To reduce the risk, the Rhineland-Palatinate Ministry of Health initiated a special vaccination campaign in the affected districts.

Disinformation and anti-democratic actors

During the floods tried actors of "maverick" groups and civil occurring neo-Nazis , the flood victims to gain their objectives and structures away from the democratic order building. One of the documented means was disinformation about state aid measures paired with our own offers of aid for flood victims. About social media was attempted doubts about health preventive measures and offers of help government agencies and aid organizations to sow.

The conspiracy theorist Bodo Schiffmann and other people from the “lateral thinker” scene called for donations to their own bank accounts. It is unclear to what extent the money collected by Schiffmann will actually be paid out to the flood victims. Schiffmann allegedly collected 600,000 euros, but then devised demands for a payout, for example to end the alleged discrimination against opponents of mask and vaccination. He also said that he only wanted to pay out funds to construction companies who advertise a “lateral thinker” demonstration in Berlin or who cooperate in other ways with the “lateral thinkers”.

Right-wing extremists like Nikolai Nerling broadcast videos from the affected Ahrweiler and called for people to come to the flood areas in order to prevent the security forces from intervening. The flood crisis team in Rhineland-Palatinate warned of Nerling's appeal. In Ahrweiler, the association “Parents stand up” built a so-called family center to relieve the victims of the flood disaster. The association speaks out against protective masks and corona tests in schools as well as against vaccinations. The activists said that 50 therapists and pastors should take care of children. The state youth welfare office of Rhineland-Palatinate closed the facility. The district of Ahrweiler also tried to stop the activities and pointed out that the assertion made by the association that it had been officially commissioned to look after the young people was wrong.

The Koblenz police warned of vehicles with loudspeakers that look similar to police emergency vehicles . The vehicles, which were also used in a number of “lateral thinkers” demonstrations, spread the false report via loudspeakers that police and rescue workers were withdrawing from the flood regions. Among other things, it is about sowing distrust of the state with this vehicle , said the political scientist Josef Holnburger. He said that right- wingers are out and about in Ahrweiler doesn't surprise him: "They like to portray themselves as a go-getter." What is new is that "lateral thinkers" have also discovered the topic for themselves and are now joining forces with neo-Nazis there.

According to the Vice President of the THW Sabine Lackner , some emergency services were insulted and vehicles were pelted with garbage. The Vice President also stated that the incidents had not been reported. Since many helpers were filmed by “lateral thinkers”, the THW approved its employees to remove their name badges during operations.

Web links

Commons : Floods in Western and Central Europe 2021  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Video documentations

Individual evidence

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