From a truck stop in Northeim, around 50 vehicles and 130 volunteers from all over Lower Saxony started for the Nürburgring in Rhineland-Palatinate on Saturday afternoon, as a spokesman for the German Red Cross (DRK) confirmed. Among them paramedics and doctors. There, in the district of Ahrweiler in the Eifel, the helpers await instructions for their work in the region hit hard by the flood. The emergency services have, among other things, special equipment for a tent city in which up to 50 people can be treated.
Fire brigades from all over Lower Saxony help
Also on Saturday, eight district fire departments from the Lower Saxony districts of Göttingen, Grafschaft Bentheim, Holzminden, Osnabrück, Schaumburg, Verden, Diepholz and the Hanover region in the administrative districts of Arnsberg, Düsseldorf and Cologne. According to the Lower Saxony Ministry of the Interior, North Rhine-Westphalia requested support from the neighboring state.
Helpers from East Frisia on site
Since Friday, helpers from East Friesland have also been on site, including the THW from Leer, which is working at the Steinbachtalsperre near Euskirchen. Men and women from the Deutsche Lebens-Rettungs-Gesellschaft (DLRG) from Wittmund and Norden also help in the disaster area, as does a helicopter crew from Northern Helicopter GmbH from Emden. Emden’s Lord Mayor Tim Kruithoff (independent) has also sent a group of fire fighters with pumps and ambulances.
Police on duty against looting
A total of almost 1,100 emergency services are on their way. Among other things, they are supposed to help empty basements that are full. According to a spokesman for the authorities, it is planned to replace these forces after about 48 hours because of the “exhausting use”. The Lower Saxony police also support their colleagues in North Rhine-Westphalia. The main purpose of the officers is to prevent looting in the areas affected by evacuations and power outages.
DLRG helps in the Rhein-Erft district
Two DLRG water rescue trains with a total of 110 people were already deployed on Thursday evening. Your task is primarily to provide help with the evacuation measures in the particularly affected Rhein-Erft district, the spokesman said. The units are equipped with special vehicles, including a loading crane and lifeboats with shallow drafts for use in flood situations. Divers are also on duty.
“Exhausting, long-term missions”
Also on Thursday, more than 300 emergency services from the Technical Relief Organization (THW) from Lower Saxony and Bremen left for North Rhine-Westphalia. These include volunteers from Göttingen, Northeim and Osterode am Harz. They will stay in the flood area for two to three days, as Axel Rentschka from THW in Göttingen told NDR in Lower Saxony. “They are sure to prepare for strenuous, long-term assignments that can also be physically challenging.” Contact with the severely affected local population will require a lot of empathy, said Rentschka. Furthermore, emergency services from Stade, Clausthal-Zellerfeld, Braunschweig, Wolfsburg, Osnabrück and Ronnenberg (Hanover region) broke into the crisis areas. Some have a special laser device with them that scans the building and recognizes whether they are in danger of collapsing.
Lower Saxony forms a new department for disaster relief
Lower Saxony’s Interior Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) spoke on Friday of a tragedy of unbelievable proportions. “I would like to thank all the emergency services from the bottom of my heart and wish them every success – and that they will come back safe and sound.” On Thursday, the ministry also created a special organizational structure (BAO) in cooperation with the Lower Saxony State Office for Fire and Disaster Protection (NLBK). This is operated as a separate staff organization. The aim is to support the affected federal states with material and units at short notice. In addition, the BAO coordinates the entire deployment of Lower Saxony units in other federal states.
Weil thanks helpers from Lower Saxony
Lower Saxony’s Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD) expressed his condolences to the relatives and friends of the dead and missing. “It’s bitter what this mass of water has done, how much suffering and destruction the storm has brought,” said Weil on Thursday. He thanked the helpers from Lower Saxony who are working there. “Take good care of yourself,” he told them on the way. Weil said that the current severe weather disaster will not remain an isolated incident. “You shouldn’t fool yourself, we’re in the midst of climate change,” said Weil.
Helicopter requested from Schleswig-Holstein to rescue people
The federal police have requested a helicopter from Schleswig-Holstein to provide support in the disaster areas in North Rhine-Westphalia. The machines of the Federal Police are equipped with winches that crew members can use to abseil to rescue people and pull them into the machine.
Boats from Hamburg in action near Cologne
Around 70 police officers from Hamburg are currently on duty to help with the flood. They would come from the water police and the state riot police and had 15 boats of different sizes with them, said Police President Ralf Martin Meyer on Friday in the Hamburg Journal. The police should search the area in the affected villages with their boats. Since it is unclear what the helpers will encounter, the police also sent their pastor afterwards. Other emergency services from the German Red Cross, the DLRG and the fire brigade are on alert.
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania supplies transport vehicles
Support is also coming from Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania: On Saturday 27 men and women from the disaster control set out for Bad Neuenahr (Rhineland-Palatinate) to bring a total of eleven team transport vehicles to the region. They come from the districts and the cities of Schwerin and Rostock. During the night, the helpers were able to hand over the vans on site. According to Jörg Beckmann from civil protection, the helpers were “shocked by the extent of the destruction in the south”. He assumes that the reconstruction will take years.
Schwerin and Wuppertal linked by town twinning
The pictures from Wuppertal caused consternation especially in the city of Schwerin. Wuppertal and Schwerin have been twinning cities since 1987. “We made contact with the city of Wuppertal and of course offered our support,” said Schwerin’s mayor Sebastian Ehlers (CDU) on Thursday in NDR Nordmagazin. The local aid organizations, for example the DRK or THW, have not yet been requested.