M.arcel Wahl has just arrived in Leverkusen with his soldiers. The sky is cloudy, at least it’s not raining. But that doesn’t mean a lot. The staff sergeant looked at the BayArena while he was on the phone this Friday afternoon. Behind it are the Dhünn and the Rhine. Both are dangerously swollen, as is the Wupper, which can be heard in the urban area. The soils in the Bergisches Land are soaked like a sponge, dams in the Sauerland and the Eifel overflow, dams have become unstable. Wahl and his comrades do not yet know exactly where they will be deployed. But the defensive battle against the water is imminent.
20,000 sandbags are waiting to be distributed at critical points. Maybe there will be more. The civil forces are overwhelmed with it. That is why the city called for the Bundeswehr. Panzerbrigade 21 alerted soldiers from its supply battalion from Unna and the reconnaissance battalion from Ahlen. A total of two hundred soldiers were marched. But not all of them get through. The Leverkusen motorway junction is already closed at this time. The Ahlens, one of whom Wahl is one, made it early enough. The soldiers from Unna, however, according to Wahl, were still stuck.
Leverkusen is only the latest focal point this Friday afternoon where the Bundeswehr is deployed in North Rhine-Westphalia. But it is far from the only one. Of the 17 requests for assistance that the armed forces have accepted up to this point, only five have been completed. New ones are constantly being added. 555 soldiers, said a spokesman for the responsible state command in Düsseldorf, are currently deployed. But the number is obviously just a water level. Exactly, it is said from command circles, one does not know. The cities and municipalities often called the Bundeswehr. The soldiers sent an advance detachment to see what they could do, then action would be taken. The “paper situation” will be dealt with later.
People are being rescued from homes that have been washed over
According to the state command of North Rhine-Westphalia, the focus of the troops when deploying the Bundeswehr continues to be on rescue measures, immediate damage prevention and the restoration of elementary options for civilian action.
SAR helicopters continued to take people from tree tops and washed up houses. Barriers against the water would be built and roads would be repaired so that the fire brigade, ambulance, the technical relief organization and, last but not least, the residents could push into cut-off areas again. Just like in Hagen. The city at the foot of the Sauerland was the first to turn to the Bundeswehr with a request for help on Wednesday, in view of the massive devastation in the city as a result of the heavy rain and the Volme, which swelled into a torrent.
Soldiers from the 130th Panzer Pioneer Battalion from Minden were still on Wednesday night with heavy equipment moving towards Sünden; The military skills of the pioneers proved to be spot on for the fight against the damage. In a battle, one of their tasks is to cut aisles, overcome barriers and cross bodies of water. In Hagen, the pioneers pulled a real sea container out of the water on Friday. The 20 foot long container was stuck to a bridge. Buffalo-type recovery tanks with their crane system and Dachs-type pioneer tanks, which have an excavator system, had to be used together to recover the container.
In addition to the tank pioneers, soldiers from Panzer Brigade 21 were also deployed in Hagen. One of them was Captain Martin Waltemathe. The press officer, who looks back on five missions abroad in Kosovo and Mali, is still shocked by the extent of the devastation on the phone the day after his return from Hagen. He will never forget a street in the Hohenlimburg district. “As I walked over the rubble, I saw something white peeking out of the ground. It was a car roof. ”He couldn’t forget the sight. “There are tons of rubble and rubble,” he says. “Many people have lost everything, simply everything, and that in the middle of Germany.”
“The priority now is disaster relief”
The soldiers of the Bundeswehr have to be prepared for the fact that in addition to the corona pandemic with the consequences of the floods, they will have to cope with another deployment inside the country for a long time. Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU) ordered on Friday that the Bundeswehr should postpone all orders that are not directly related to missions abroad. “The priority of the Bundeswehr is now disaster relief,” wrote the minister on Twitter. From their experiences in the corona pandemic, it is said from Bundeswehr circles, you at least benefit from it. The interplay between the civilian forces and the armed forces “got used to it” in the fight against the virus.