It’s already the third century flood within a few years and this time it’s one of the worst. According to the German Weather Service unimaginable 22.75 trillion litres of water came down from heaven within four days. Complete villages and cities disappeared in the floodings. Several measuring stations reported new historical highs. Especially the region of the East German Elbe and the Bavarian Danube are struck from the water masses. In Passau, the Danube has reached the limit of 12.89 metres and thus has broken the water mark record from 1501.
Throughout Germany thousands of soldiers, police men, firefighters, specialists of the Technisches Hilfswerk and volunteers work side by side to get the water masses under control. The helpers depend on their emergency and special vehicles. Especially the constant support with sandbags for the dykes is essential. After filling the bags, semi-trailers and Sprinter transport them directly to the dykes or to redistribution stations. But the reserves of sandbags have run out in Germany. Fortunately the neighbouring countries help out: about 1.6 millions of empty bags were provided by now.
Some Sprinter are especially equipped for their function as mobile control room. Directors of the fire brigades, THW and the police coordinate the operation via telephone, radio and satellite connections. They make sure that all sandbags are distributed to the right spots.
If it’s not possible to get through the streets with normal vehicles, it’s time for the Unimog. With its specific equipment for such operations, the vehicle transports helpers and sandbags exactly to the places where they are needed. Moreover, the Unimog also evacuates people who remain in their houses until the end. In the Vito and Sprinter of the rescue services, doctors and paramedics medicate everyone who needs help, no matter if in provisional accommodations in gyms or at the dykes where people are piling sandbags until total exhaustion. In addition, high-performance pumps are working around the clock in the fire brigade and THW vehicles for days. Every minute they pump about 15.000 litres of muddy water back into the rivers and try to keep free the working space behind the protective barriers.
Even though the water levels are sinking, there’s danger that the soaked dykes are going to break. The helpers have to control them continuously and might have to act quickly. When some dyke damages can’t be reached on the roads, boats and helicopters help to fix them. If everything goes well, the water will be drained off in the next weeks. Nevertheless, there’s no time to rest for helpers and operation vehicles. The clean-up works need to be done and the dimensions of the damages are still not foreseeable.
Photos: Daimler Media