Flood defenses strengthened as alert status reaches highest level | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 27.05.2010
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Flood defenses strengthened as alert status reaches highest level

The disaster alert status in Germany’s Brandenburg state has been bumped up to level four as high waters continued to menace the region. Water levels along the Oder and Neisse rivers are still climbing.

A view of flooded areas around Ratzdorf in Brandenburg

The Oder and Neisse rivers have spilled over their banks

Rivers in Poland and Germany are still rising as floodwaters continue to threaten the region. In the eastern German state of Brandenburg, the flood alert status on Wednesday was raised to level four, the highest level, meaning that large areas beyond the river's banks could be inundated.

A spokesman for Brandenburg's interior ministry, Ingo Decker, told German news agency dpa that at midnight the water was rising at about 2 centimeters per hour - slightly slower than expected - and that the flood's high point would likely be reached Thursday evening.

The ministry said it was preparing for heavy flooding, but that it didn't expect the region to be as hard hit as in 1997, when flood waters ravaged the region.

Manfred Zalenga, who heads Brandenburg's Oder-Spree district for the Flood Control Center in Frankfurt an der Oder, said all flood dikes in the area were now under constant supervision. More than 100 inspectors were reportedly walking along the dikes around the clock to report any damage.

Shortly after midnight in the German village of Ratzdorf, which borders Poland, water levels surpassed the critical point at 6.08 meters.

A map showing eastern parts and Germany and western Poland

The rivers Oder and Neisse are continuing to swell

The floodwaters are flowing from surges that have devastated parts of southern and northern Poland over the past week.

The Oder, which starts in the Czech Republic and flows through parts of western Poland before entering Brandenburg, feeds several other German river systems, including the Spree, which flows through the capital, Berlin.

Meanwhile, emergency teams in Poland are still working to shore up river banks as the country continues to suffer its worst floods in decades. The high waters have so far claimed 15 lives throughout the country.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said the government had set up a relief fund, pledging two billion zloty (480 million euros, $585 million) in aid to people who had lost their homes.

A protective barrier broke near the town of Plock on Sunday, sending flood waters into low-lying areas of the region about 100 kilometers northwest of the capital Warsaw.

EU officials said France and Germany have sent high-power pumps to Poland to help the country handle the crisis. Russia has also promised to help Warsaw deal with the disaster.


Editor: Rob Turner

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