Could the authorities have acted more quickly could have prevented the worst consequences of the flood disaster in western Germany? A committee of inquiry meets in the NRW state parliament on this question.
Düsseldorf – Even days before the flood disaster, weather expert Jörg Kachelmann estimated that an extreme weather event was emerging for the southwest of North Rhine-Westphalia.
On Monday, according to the weather models, it was actually known that something big was going to happen, said Kachelmann on Friday evening in the investigative committee of the state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia on the flood disaster in July on the weather models and the forecast on Monday, July 12th.
“The information was all there,” emphasized Kachelmann in his survey by members of the state parliament. Why hadn’t people been informed 24 hours in advance that something was coming that they had not yet seen? – He asked that with a view to the events on July 13th and 14th, when extensive heavy rain led to floods and flooding. “We always have enough time,” emphasized Kachelmann. If the events were to be repeated, not a single person would have to die, he emphasized.
Kachelmann had warned in a tweet on July 13th at noon that “it might be time to gradually prepare people for a flood scenario, both officially and in the media”. The first floods occurred the following night.
The British expert Hannah Cooke made similar statements in the committee of inquiry. The European flood warning system EFAS gave a first indication of a possible extreme event in the Rhineland a few days before the flood disaster.
On July 10, 2021, EFAS forecast a flood that occurs once every 20 years with a probability of 22 percent for the Rhine basin, said the hydrology professor.
This information was still uncertain, but you should be particularly careful in such a case, she explained. That would be the time when the national competent authorities look at some additional information in order to get a clearer picture of the situation.
“Admit that the system has failed overall”
She has no indication of how the information made available by EFAS was ultimately used by the relevant national and local authorities. EFAS partners received warnings. They could then independently access the warning system’s web portal and continue working there.
“When so many people die, we have to admit that the system has failed as a whole,” the expert reiterated the criticism she had already expressed, referring to the many dead.
She also emphasized that this criticism does not refer to certain parts of North Rhine-Westphalia. They did not investigate how the different parts of the system worked in the case of the flood disaster in July.
The committee of inquiry in the state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia came about with the votes of the opposition MPs from the SPD and the Greens. The committee is to investigate possible omissions, omissions or misjudgments by the CDU / FDP state government and subordinate authorities in connection with the devastating flood in mid-July with 49 deaths in North Rhine-Westphalia. In the spring of 2022, a public report on the findings available up to that point is to be submitted to the state parliament. There are state elections in May 2022. dpa
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