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Questions raised about Germany's warning system after flood disaster

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As the flood waters begin to subside in western Germany, questions are being raised about the country’s response to the disaster: what went wrong and what can the country do better? 

 

Germany is reeling in the aftermath of its worst flooding disaster in decades, which has so far claimed the lives of more than 165 victims and caused billions of euros’ worth of damage to housing, energy supply, roads and bridges. 

 

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On 21.7.2021, 10:45:57, Wulfrun said:

Slightly related, i was very surprised that a brand new house with a keller (mine) is not forced to have flood sensor nor water pump nor a cubic meter of water tank buffer... My house in Portugal has about 4 cubic meters of well under the basement, plus a big ass pump with a flood sensor.

It saved my basement from flooding 10 years ago, as the pump broke down during floodings and the 4 cubic meters gave me enough time to get another pump.

 

Back in Germany, a year ago I had a leaking pipe that was about to burst and I was hours away from a flooded basement.

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1 hour ago, MikeMelga said:

Slightly related, i was very surprised that a brand new house with a keller (mine) is not forced to have flood sensor nor water pump nor a cubic meter of water tank buffer...

 

My home town in the UK is on the Thames which up until the building of a flood relieve channel in the middle 1970s, flooded to a greater or lesser extent every winter. Older houses on the extensive flood plain not only had no cellars (common in the UK) but were built on a platform with steps up of a meter or more in height to keep the ground floor above the flood waters. Modern building, which has dramatically increased, on the flood plain is not flood proof and would likely cause worse flooding by restricting flood water flow if there is ever an, increasingly likely, event that overcomes the the flood prevention measures. Looks like we could take a lesson from the past and build to suit the local conditions rather than risk trying and change the local to suit the buildings.

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2 hours ago, MikeMelga said:

Slightly related, i was very surprised that a brand new house with a keller (mine) is not forced to have flood sensor nor water pump nor a cubic meter of water tank buffer... My house in Portugal has about 4 cubic meters of well under the basement, plus a big ass pump with a flood sensor.

It saved my basement from flooding 10 years ago, as the pump broke down during floodings and the 4 cubic meters gave me enough time to get another pump.

 

Back in Germany, a year ago I had a leaking pipe that was about to burst and I was hours away from a flooded basement.

 

I do not think that any water pump system, would have kept the flooded western cities of Germany safe and dry.  As far as I can see, there is very little you can do against these flash flood events. People who buy property near a river or where rain can collect just have to accept its going to happen sometimes.

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There are different kinds of floods. With some pumps help but not with the floodings like the one in Ahrweiler. 

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52 minutes ago, RedMidge said:

And stop building over water meadows.

Building is definitely one of the issues connected with the floods. Here in the Eifel, land (fields) is parcelled up, bought by a developer who sticks his houses on them and then connects the drainage up to the existing infrastructure, walking away with a load of profit and no further costs. The drainage problems have been compounded by 1) replacing fields with good drainage for concrete, which sends more water, faster into the drainage system, and 2) the drainage infrastructure is pushed over its intended capacity.

 

29 minutes ago, Namu said:

With some pumps help but not with the floodings like the one in Ahrweiler

Absolutely! There were some folk in my village (up a mountain) pumping rain water from their cellars, which would have gone straight down the valley to the already flooded villages below (in fairness, at the time they were doing it, there were no warnings or sirens highlighting the plight of the neighbouring villages - that is another issue though). Once the villages were flooded there was nowhere for the affected houses to pump the water.

 

What beggars belief is that there is an intended development of 50 more houses on the outskirts of our village where the official plan is that in the event of excess water, they will allow rain water, "to drain naturally into the valley". I wonder how happy the villages down the valley will be with that plan now. The reason for the decision was that the developer would find the obligation to pump the water uphill or building a new Wasserspeicher too expensive for his project. Too many councils here are keen to get extra tax payers into their towns/villages, and see selling land to the developers as a win-win, without thinking through the longer-term, infrastructure costs.

 

 

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3 hours ago, dstanners said:

Building is definitely one of the issues connected with the floods. Here in the Eifel, land (fields) is parcelled up, bought by a developer who sticks his houses on them and then connects the drainage up to the existing infrastructure, walking away with a load of profit and no further costs. The drainage problems have been compounded by 1) replacing fields with good drainage for concrete, which sends more water, faster into the drainage system, and 2) the drainage infrastructure is pushed over its intended capacity.

 

Absolutely! There were some folk in my village (up a mountain) pumping rain water from their cellars, which would have gone straight down the valley to the already flooded villages below (in fairness, at the time they were doing it, there were no warnings or sirens highlighting the plight of the neighbouring villages - that is another issue though). Once the villages were flooded there was nowhere for the affected houses to pump the water.

 

What beggars belief is that there is an intended development of 50 more houses on the outskirts of our village where the official plan is that in the event of excess water, they will allow rain water, "to drain naturally into the valley". I wonder how happy the villages down the valley will be with that plan now. The reason for the decision was that the developer would find the obligation to pump the water uphill or building a new Wasserspeicher too expensive for his project. Too many councils here are keen to get extra tax payers into their towns/villages, and see selling land to the developers as a win-win,

 

3 hours ago, dstanners said:

 

 

We seriously need a change in the way we act and think. But knowing Germany this might take a long time...was told about an article in the NZZ where Switzerland expressed it's surprise about the lack of German preparedness. Apparently in Switzerland bridges in small valleys are required to be some kind of a drawbridge. If the water level rises they pull up the bridges. In that way debris can float freely and doesn't get stuck and acts like a dam. Debris suddenly becoming unstuck is how flood waves are caused.

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1 hour ago, Namu said:

was told about an article in the NZZ where Switzerland expressed it's surprise about the lack of German preparedness. Apparently in Switzerland bridges in small valleys are required to be some kind of a drawbridge. If the water level rises they pull up the bridges. In that way debris can float freely and doesn't get stuck and acts like a dam. Debris suddenly becoming unstuck is how flood waves are caused.

 

Here it is: https://www.nzz.ch/meinung/der-andere-blick/die-billigste-ausrede-nach-dem-hochwasser-der-klimawandel-ist-an-allem-schuld-ld.1636962?ga=1&kid=nl164_2021-7-22&mktcid=nled&mktcval=164_2021-07-23

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I think one should consider voting for the greens. But will they try to make a lot of changes?

 

Schröder got elected in 1998 with the slogan: "wir machen nicht alles anders, aber vieles besser" (we shall not do everything differently, but we shall do many things better)

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9 hours ago, Namu said:

There are different kinds of floods. With some pumps help but not with the floodings like the one in Ahrweiler. 

Exactly. In my case, my street flooded about 20cm for 1 hour. The 4 cubic meter storage were barely enough to hold it, but prevented a serious flooding on my underground.

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On 7/28/2021, 7:25:16, Fietsrad said:

I think one should consider voting for the greens. But will they try to make a lot of changes?

I`m always wary of voting for the Greens.

It´s not their environmental policies that worry me (agree with many of them) it´s if they actually know how to run a country that I could see being the problem.Sometime you have to go against your core beliefs to do what is best for your citizens.

 

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United Nations: “code red for humanity"

 

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UN report: Earth warming likely to pass limit set by leaders

 

Earth’s climate is getting so hot that temperatures in about a decade will probably blow past a level of warming that world leaders have sought to prevent, according to a report released Monday that the United Nations calls a “code red for humanity.”

 

“It’s just guaranteed that it’s going to get worse,” said report co-author Linda Mearns, a senior climate scientist at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research. “I don’t see any area that is safe ... Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.”

 

But scientists also eased back a bit on the likelihood of the absolute worst climate catastrophes.

 

The authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)report, which calls climate change clearly human-caused and “unequivocal,” makes more precise and warmer forecasts for the 21st century than it did last time it was issued in 2013.

 

Each of five scenarios for the future, based on how much carbon emissions are cut, passes the more stringent of two thresholds set in the 2015 Paris climate agreement. World leaders agreed then to try to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) since the late 19th century because problems mount quickly after that. The limit is only a few tenths of a degree hotter than now because the world has already warmed nearly 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) in the past century and a half.

 

Under each scenario, the report said, the world will cross the 1.5 degrees Celsius warming mark in the 2030s, earlier than some past predictions. Warming has ramped up in recent years, data shows.

 

More on how we fucked the planet: 

https://apnews.com/article/europe-science-climate-environment-and-nature-united-nations-1d89d5183583718ad4ad311fa2ee7d83

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2 minutes ago, Wulfrun said:

A city in Sicily has recorded Europe’s hottest-ever temperature, meteorologists have said.

 

Syracuse, located on the island’s south-east coast, saw the mercury rise to 48.8C on Wednesday, according to the daily newspaper Corriere della Sera, citing data from Sicily’s Agrometeorological Information System (SIAS).

 

I have a student on a business trip in Sicily this week. He logged into the English session yesterday and showed us Mount Etna out of the office window. Luckily, they have AC in the building and in the hotel where he's staying, but he says it's unbearably hot outside, nobody is walking about

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