NAfter heavy rains and floods, the Vulkaneifel district in Rhineland-Palatinate declared a disaster. “The situation is very serious, we have many flooded streets and towns that can no longer be reached,” said District Administrator Julia Gieseking (SPD) on Wednesday evening in Daun. The schools in the district should remain closed on Thursday.
“I appeal to the population that everyone stay at home and protect themselves from the masses of water,” said Gieseking. The disaster enables the armed forces to support them. Vehicles would also be needed to negotiate impassable roads. The focus of the operations is on rescuing people. At first, the emergency services could hardly take care of flooded basements. “There are so many locations that we have to set priorities.”
Several flooded highways
The President of the Supervisory and Service Authority (ADD), Thomas Linnertz, said he had rushed to the Vulkaneifel to get an overview. The situation is also difficult in neighboring districts due to heavy rain and floods. The fire and disaster control inspector of the Vulkaneifel district, Harald Schmitz, said there were such strong masses of water that “entire streams flow through places”. In Hillesheim part of the old people’s home had been cleared. “We are assuming that the situation will last longer and that is why we have requested support.” Apart from cuts, however, there have so far been no reports of major injuries to those affected.
Meanwhile, the heavy rain has led to states of emergency and numerous fire services in several regions of Germany. While the situation initially calmed down in some places on Wednesday, North Rhine-Westphalia in particular was still badly affected, especially the state capital Düsseldorf and Hagen in the Ruhr area. The rain storm has also caused flooded roads on numerous motorways. Closures and traffic jams were the result.
In the evening in Cologne, the A1 between the Köln-West and Köln-Bocklemünd junction was blocked in both directions. According to the Rhineland Motorway Company, the reason was a flooded tunnel from which the pumps could not pump out the water quickly enough. In the evening, the WDR reported flooded lanes or storm damage on motorways 43, 44, 59, 61 and 553. At around 10 p.m., traffic jammed across the country for a total of 60 kilometers. In addition, operations on numerous train routes had to be completely stopped in some cases.
North Rhine-Westphalia Interior Minister Herbert Reul spoke of an “extremely difficult situation” in some regions of the state. “The further development is currently not foreseeable with certainty,” said the CDU politician of the German press agency. The city of Düsseldorf asked residents in the Grafenberg district to leave their apartments on Wednesday due to the threat of flooding. The city announced on Wednesday that around 350 buildings in the Ostparkiedlung were particularly affected by the rising floods in the northern Düssel. A care center was set up for the residents.
In the heavy rain, the flat roof of a retail store in a shopping center in Würselen near Aachen collapsed. An injured person was able to save himself, the city said. “Presumably the roof did not withstand the masses of water.” The area had been searched with rescue dogs, but no other people were discovered in the building.
A retirement home with 76 residents in Hagen was evacuated due to the inflow of water. “The retirement home is very badly affected and has become uninhabitable,” said a city spokesman. Parents were asked not to send their children to daycare and not to use the holiday care at the primary schools. A buried person was rescued with minor injuries. Several drivers were released from their cars, which were trapped by water. There were at least 200 locations. Some parts of the village could no longer be reached. “The people are desperate,” said a spokesman for the Hagen police headquarters.