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Floods in Germany

Conor DillonJune 13, 2013

Slow-moving Elbe floodwaters are still moving north. As residents there prepare for the worst, southern German towns are starting to clean up. DW looks at Germany's second "flood of the century" in just over a decade.

Soldiers of the German Bundeswehr help shore up flood barriers with sandbags against floodwaters (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Image: Getty Images

Even before the city of Passau disappeared under the waters of the Danube, complaints were being made about Germany's failure to learn its lesson from the floods in 2002. A case in point is Grimma on the Elbe river: The town's half-finished wall, started in 2007 and then delayed, could have prevented its second drenching in just over a decade. Instead, the town was flooded again.

As the waters moved north, Dresden held its breath while the Elbe crested. Simultaneously, citizen volunteers in Wittenberg pulled together to sandbag their city to safety. Downstream, Magdeburg was not so lucky. The highest waters ever recorded burst a nearby dam, resulting in forced evacuations.

German fire-fighters, soldiers and disaster response teams continue to rescue citizens and distribute sandbags - joined by an unexpected number of volunteers who have rallied together through social media, where #Hochwasser (#Floodwaters) is a top trend. Germany's soccer heavyweights have also pitched in: Borussia Dortmund have donated 100,000 euros ($132,000), while Bayern Munich are planning a benefit match for victims of the floods.

Another 100 million euros has been promised by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who personally flew in to help the victims - and, pundits add, to take advantage of one political lesson that was most certainly drawn from the floods in 2002. Federal elections are on the horizon, and pictures of politicians helping flood victims appeal to voters.

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