Germany steps up evacuations as floods swamp central Europe

Worst flood in 500 years: Across many parts of central and eastern Europe, the scene looked eerily the same- cities and towns appeared as though they were in the middle of lakes and rivers.
June 10, 2013BONN, GERMANYGerman authorities urged 15,000 more people to flee their homes in a city on the swollen Elbe River Sunday as central Europe’s worst floods in a decade also threatened Hungary after causing havoc in the Czech Republic and Austria. The river Danube reached a new record high in Budapest but the Hungarian capital’s mayor sought to ease concerns, saying water levels were stabilizing, although about 1,200 people were evacuated along the river. The deluge has also sparked massive emergency responses in Austria and Slovakia. A torrent of flood waters in Germany has turned vast areas into a brown water world, sparked a mass mobilization of emergency workers and caused billions of euros in damage in what one lawmaker termed a “national catastrophe.” Rescue helicopters criss-crossed the sky and military armoured personnel carriers rumbled through the flood zone, where thousands of troops, firefighters and volunteers were frantically building up flood defenses with sandbags. Across central Europe, the floods have killed at least 18 people, including 10 in the Czech Republic. The German city of Magdeburg urged 15,000 residents to leave the east bank of the river Elbe, where an almost 7.5 metre (24 feet) peak — up from the normal level of two meters — was expected to strain saturated dykes for the next few days. “We hope that the dykes will withstand the pressure over the coming days, but we can’t be 100 percent sure,” said fire brigade spokesman Andreas Hamann, one of 1,200 emergency staff working around the clock in the area. The move was described as a precaution, but a city spokesman said “people really are supposed to leave” in face of the danger. In all, 23,000 people in and around the city have been told to evacuate this weekend. “The hardest thing is not knowing what to do,” Brigitte Ilsmann, 88, said as she sat with a group of elderly Germans in a Magdeburg school sports hall turned disaster evacuation centre. Evacuated from her care home, the old lady who moves with a walker took refuge in the facility where the Red Cross has set up cots with grey blankets and offers thermoses of coffee, baskets full of apples and biscuits. Soldiers in Magdeburg were also struggling to save a power installation in the harbor area, as water damage would not only knock out electricity to tens of thousands of homes but also to water pumps running at full tilt. Tensions eased in cities upriver along the Elbe and its tributaries, including Dresden, Halle and Bitterfeld, where many evacuation orders were lifted and people returned to start clearing out their mud-caked homes. The water level in Magdeburg was higher than during “once-a-century” floods of 2002, local authorities said. Magdeburg lies downriver from where the Saale river spills into the Elbe, creating a water surge a record 40 kilometers (25 miles) long. Further downstream, towns including Lauenburg and the village of Hitzacker in Lower Saxony were preparing for the peak to hit in coming days. The rains severely swelled the Danube, hitting southern Germany, especially the city of Passau, which has moved from alert to clean-up mode. Further east along the Danube, authorities said Budapest flood barriers were high enough to protect the capital, where the river was forecast to peak at 8.95 meters on Sunday. “Budapest is not at risk of a catastrophe, the level is not expected to rise significantly,” Mayor Istvan Tarlos said, adding that leaking dykes had been fixed. Switzerland had so far been largely spared the havoc wreaked by the floods but at around 6:00 pm (1600 GMT) Sunday, violent rain and hail storms hit the western cantons of Vaud and Fribourg. The downpour caused mudslides and floods that blocked roads and a railway and forced more than a dozen people to evacuate, police said. No one was injured. In Germany, President Joachim Gauck visited flood-hit regions, where in vast areas only roofs and tree tops stick out of the water and the only access was by boat or helicopter. “One cannot imagine how much remains to be dealt with,” he said. Adding to tensions was a threat to attack dykes from a group calling itself the “Germanophobic Flood Brigade.” Aerial and ground surveillance had been stepped up, said Saxony-Anhalt state interior minister Holger Stahlknecht. –SD
contribution Irene
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10 Responses to Germany steps up evacuations as floods swamp central Europe

  1. G.R. Myers says:

    It is kind of ironic that how the Germans did to the people in WWII with evacuations taking their belongings etc. Now it is happening to them. You reap what you have sowed.


  2. George says:

    If you haven’t read anything of the L.I.A. rain and flooding were a big part of it and cause the great famine of 1315 – 1318 ish. ‘The harvest failed again and the rains continued. Complained a Salzburg chronicler of 1316 “There was such an inundation of waters that it seemed as though it was THE FLOOD.” ‘
    ….This from recent news reports, ‘ GERMANY: Head of the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce Eric Schweitzer said in some regions the damage may surpass that of historic flooding in 2002, which cost the German economy about 11 billion euros ($14.5 billion).
    – Some 335,000 hectares (828,000 acres) have been entirely or partially swamped, with 172.6 million euros of damage already amassed, above all in southern Bavaria state, according to the agriculture ministry.
    SWITZERLAND: The Swiss Insurance Association (ASA) said floods had caused at least 33.3 million euros of material damage in Switzerland but the figure was expected to rise.
    CZECH REPUBLIC: Prime Minister Petr Necas anticipates the damage to come to tens of billion of koruna (several hundred million euros) but the full extent won’t be known for up to two weeks.
    – 35,000 hectares of agricultural land are under water and that figure could rise to 80,000, according to the head of the agrarian chamber. ‘
    It’s the areas of swamped to take note of over one million acres in Germany alone!
    Food shortages will cause social upheaval.


  3. selfemployed says:

    The unfortunate people involved in these floods had nothing to do with WW2. What an asinine statement. Go spew your hatred elsewhere.


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