A “Monumental Failure” of the Flood Warning Systems

Touring the flooded areas on July 18, German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivered a torrent of climate hysteria, featuring the absurd statement: “The German language hardly knows any words for the devastation that has been caused here.” She might have tried the word Nachlässigkeit, German for “negligence.”

Apparently, the government had meteorological warnings, beginning July 10, that heavy rains were likely to cause serious flooding in tributaries of the Rhine-Meuse River systems, but the warnings were turned into public service bulletins largely through certain apps rather than all-points alerts. Large numbers of people did not evacuate, in spite of the known danger.

Hannah Cloke, a professor for hydrology at the British university of Reading, confirmed that the European Flood Awareness System (EFAS) had issued such advance warnings to the German and Belgian governments, and updated them with detailed maps of which areas had to expect how much water. But those warnings, as she stressed in an interview with the London Times, were not communicated to the local populations. “It’s no use having huge computer models predicting what’s going to happen if people don’t know what to do in a flood… The fact that people didn’t evacuate or didn’t get the warnings suggests that something went wrong.”

Severe criticism of the government also came from Hartmut Ziebs, a former president of the German Fire Brigades Association (2016-2019). He charged in an Open Letter that the population was not sufficiently involved in the national disaster control: “There must be instructions for action: What should I do when the event occurs. But this also includes preparing people at least rudimentarily for the right behavior.”

He pointed to the fact, that “For years, the federal government conducted exercises under the title Lükex. The unthinkable was played out and analyzed. Catalogs of demands were drawn up. Consequences? Almost zero! Can’t happen, mustn’t happen, we can’t explain to the population, costs too much money, the list of reasons [the demands] were rejected is almost inexhaustible.” Ziebs stressed: “The protection of people must be in the foreground. That’s where you also have to get out of your comfort zone. Skirmishes over responsibilities, debates about federalism and personal animosities have no place at this point.”

While Germany and Belgium did suffer many casualties, none were reported from the Netherlands, despite the fact that some areas on the borders with Germany and Belgium were also hit by strong downpours. The difference is that after the severe flooding incidents of the 1990s, riverbanks in many places in the Netherlands had been widened to allow water to overflow during floods. The project, which cost more than two billion euros, was completed in 2019.

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