The civil protection and meteorological services, which are supposed to alert residents in a timely manner and give evacuation instructions, have faced criticism.
Have weather alerts and civil protection failed in Germany due to loss of life floods this week? Debate rages, and calls to raise public awareness multiply.
«About two days before (the disaster) we worked here very normally, we could hear about heavy rain in the weather forecast and we saw flooded roads in the area but no one imagined that something like this would happen“, testifies to AFP Gregor Degen, who was born and lives in Bad Neuenahr-Auerweiler, one of the most devastated German cities ever.”tsunami» Flood.
«During the night after that I saw a short warning arrive, but in fact it was very late due to the height of the flood“, with the raging waters rushing 2.5 meters into the city,”There was no way to protect yourself‘, he says. Like many residents of this once picturesque town of 30,000 in the Rhineland, he has lost almost everything.
Civil protection and meteorological services, which are supposed to alert residents in a timely manner and issue evacuation instructions, must face criticism in the face of casualties: more than 150 dead and hundreds injured, according to the latest count.
«In 2021, we should not mourn so many victimsHannah Kluck, a professor of hydrology at the University of Reading in the UK, said on German television station ZDF, speaking about the failure of the warning system.
«Several days ago, we were already able to see what was going to happen (…) and despite everything, the alert chain broke somewhere, so that people did not receive the warnings.“You accuse her. “Failed before the flood», adds the daily newspaper Bild, the most read in Germany.
«The sirens were silent in many places, almost no alerts were issuedOn the radio or televisionAll this (…) is a disaster for civil protection, which is one of the basic tasks of the stateHe adds. The weather services are defending themselves by considering they have warned of heavy rain.
Malo Dreyer, the leader of the worst-affected region, the Rhineland-Palatinate, confirmed on Sunday that flood warning systems have been activated. But she admitted that the failure of the mobile phone system due to the floods made it difficult to warn residents.
«People had not yet realized that the little stream, the little stream near their house, could get up out of their bed in a very short time.For his part, the head of risk management at the German Civil Protection, Wolfram Geier, said on public radio.
But the head of the organization is aware of the shortcomings. the people”Felt like it was a heavy rain” More “Its size has not been reported“It’s quite obvious,” said Gerd Landsberg on Sunday in the Funk regional press group.very big promotionof its services,Both in terms of staff and skills».
German Research Minister Anya Karliczek also urged the authorities to be better prepared. “One of the lessons of this disaster in West Germany is that we need to improve research into these extreme weather episodes over the next few years.“, She said.
But Chancellor Angela Merkel, who visited the scene on Sunday, warned against exaggerated expectations. “Of course, after every event, we think about how we can improve ourselves. But sometimes natural disasters happen so fast that you can’t escape from them“, She said.