Monday, 10 June 2013

Hochwasser

It has been a worry time for many parts of Germany during this past couple of weeks.  The news reports here and around the world have been full of the flooding in central Europe.  Some people have lost their lives and the cost to rectify the damage is expected to be in the billions of euros.

This image bring home just what it is like when rivers overflow their banks and make everyone's life a misery:

Here is an aerial view of Dresden.  The old town is in the upper part of the photo.  There should be a quay running alongside the river but this is all under water.  The boats are anchored where the edge would normally be.  if it get smuch higher it will flood the city:

They say that it some areas the flooding is as high as it has been in the last 500 years.  Meissen, Halle, Magdeburg, Dresden: many town are feeling the effects of these floodwaters.  This photograph shows a motor way down near Munich:
 http://www.abendzeitung-muenchen.de/gallery.hochwasser-aktuell-dresden-halle-deggendorf-jahrhundert-flut-so-schlimm-ist-die-lage-param~100~99~0~149~false.f29ba1fe-f2f1-457a-adee-162c8cb13de0.html

There has been flooding in other countries too: Hungary and the Czech Republic.  Here is a more dramatic photograph of what flooding can do:
 http://www.abendzeitung-muenchen.de/gallery.hochwasser-aktuell-dresden-halle-deggendorf-jahrhundert-flut-so-schlimm-ist-die-lage-param~65~64~0~149~false.f29ba1fe-f2f1-457a-adee-162c8cb13de0.html

All that water eventually disperses, following natural water courses until it reaches the sea.  The main rivers in this area are the Elbe and the Danube.  For Kaiserswerth this is good news because of course we are on the Rhine.

However. . .

Melting snow in the Alps (where the Rhine is born); heavy rains in southern Germany (through which the Rhine runs), and some run off from the flooded areas, has meant that the Rhine too has risen.  This is view outside the old village walls, which you can just see on the right of this photo.  The trees grown on a little beach area by the river :



The Flood water (hochwasser) signs are out to prevent us taking the river path to nearby Wittlaer. . .


. . . And everyone wanders down to the river to see if it is getting 'too' high for our liking.  There is talk that the town flood barriers were to be prepared!


We often gauge the river's height by the angle of the gangway down to the pontoon for the Dusseldorf ferry.  It should run at roughly a 30 to 35 degree angle.  As you can see, that is not the case at the moment:


You should be able to walk to the marker, and on the far side of the river you can see that the ferry is staying where it is.  The river is too fast for it to make the journey to our side.


Mind you, it isn't as bad as it could be.  In 1926 the river rose 11 metres and Kaiserswerth was completely flooded.  The only way to move around was by boat:
This is the highest official recorded level of flooding in Kaiserswerth and you find markers all over the place showing how high the water reached once it entered the village; but in 1795 we are told it rose to 11.5 metres.
In 1993 and 1995 the river rose to at least 10 metres.
Thankfully in our time here I have not witnessed flooding to that extent, but we do get a rise in the water table when the Rhine is high.  This week we have had the old river bed near our apartment suddenly begin to fill with water:

The ducks love it of course and we have seen duckling floating about in the fields.  But it is not good for the horses and I read that coming at this time, the flooding has been particularly bad for the wild animals, with many nesting birds losing their eggs and young, and many baby animals drowning.
Here is another view of our rising water level.  This is the pathway that wends it way around the bushes  in the part of the old river bed below our apartment:

The fields are sodden and the grass (which the farm horses and cows would normally be frolicking in) is ruined:

Thankfully we are protected by our tree lined dykes.  The main dyke runs from Kaiserswerth, all the way into Dusseldorf; providing a stout barricade as well as a nice car-free path for walkers, joggers, and bike riders.  A smaller series of dykes protects our village.  Trees were planted on top to stabilize it.  Our own bijou apartment building sits atop the dyke too!

We feel that we are quite safe from any potential water threat.

Today when I checked the river I felt certain that it is receding...

22 comments:

  1. KIRK! You are THERE? I thought you lived in England?

    Anyway, this is a disaster...we too have been inundated with rain in my state of Minnesota, and in other states as well. Please be safe! Anita

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    1. Yes we live here on the German side of the Dutch German border. Two hours by car from Amsterdam and four from Paris...
      This morning I checked and the water shave gone down quite a lot over night. Thank goodness!

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  2. I'm so sorry, this catastrophe can change life to a lot of people and as you have said, some people has even lost their lives. I'm glad you are ok and I hope the government can help people to repair at least their houses.

    Hugs

    Marina

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    1. Thank you Marina,
      I must say that the floods in Southern Germany and Central Europe have been very bad. I think that they are going down now but that means that there will be a lot to clean up!
      Kirk

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  3. Dear Kirk - I had no idea about all of this flooding in Germany - I have not looked at the news for a week whilst galavanting around Scotland. This is a vision that is more reminiscent of the UK these days. What is happening to our weather? The world definitely seems to be going through a period of change. Man may have hastened it along but the worlds climate is, I personally think, out of our control.
    Fortunately we have just had the most glorious weather in Scotland so made the most of it.

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    1. I have to say Rosemary that we were all very concerned at first but then when we realised that the Rhine was not going to bear the brunt of it all we were very relieved. Mind you that is small comfort to those on the Danube and the Elbe.

      I agree with you - the weather has seemingly gone mad!

      I do love Scotland so will be interested to see where you went.

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  4. You're not on the ground floor, are you Kirk? I hope not.
    These climatic events are nothing new here, as you'd know, but I've never faced flooding myself. Pretty horrific. It's the aftermath that's so terrible too, the cleaning up.
    I hope you and all of middle Europe are safe.

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    1. Thank you Faisal.
      My grandfather's rule about house buying was 'always live on a hill'. And this is what my family has always done. When we were choosing an apartment to rent it had to be up high and not on the ground floor.
      Luckily we have both.
      The cleaning up will be awful. I remember as a young boy going with my father to help some old people after a large flood when we lived in Bromley (Kent). What always sticks in my mind was the line that went around the wall. Everything above with fine but everything below was covered in a greenish slime combined with mud. I think that the cleaning up will be worse than the flood itself.

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  5. Dear Kirk,

    I'm glad you are not experiencing the sort of flooding that you've presented to us! whenever I think of extreme floods, I remember how the Arno flooded Florence back in the 70s and destroyed so much artwork.

    I actually live in a flood zone, but fortunately St. Petersburg has not been hit by a hurricane in 90 years.

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    1. Dear Mark,
      I think I remember reading about those Florence floods in a National Geographic magazine way back when.

      Luckily today the water has receded quite a lot so I think we are off the hook.

      Now if it can just stay sunny for the rest of the summer I will be happy!

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    2. On second thought, I think that Arno flooding was in the late 1960s. As in Kaiserwerth, Florence still has markers showing the levels.

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  6. Dear Kirk,
    Absolutely devastating what has occurred! I have been following this horrific flooding as we leave for Europe this week. Glad to hear the rivers are receding - didn't know this. And I hope for all areas affected. We are all feeling the effects of climatic changes. The summer tropical storms, hurricanes and tornadoes are all earlier and more deadlier this year. You all take care, and keep us posted.
    Loi

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    1. Dear Loi,
      The extent of the flooding has been awful. I think it was the amount of rain that suddenly fell a few weeks ago. I think that the weather has gone mad!
      Luckily all is getting back to normal here. I am pleased about that as we are going to Barcelona next Friday.
      Where are you going to go while in Europe? France and Sweden? ;-)
      Kirk

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  7. Kirk, every day I see on TV 'Euronews' what happens in some cities : terrible flood! I've been to Prague and Dresden and remember Charles bridge, that is closed now and the Elbe embankment where I had a walk.
    I saw that the water level is high, 7,5 m!
    I hope you are well in your village on a dyke!

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    1. Dear Nadezda,
      We are safe here in Kaiserswerth. The water has almost gone back to its normal level which we are very happy about.
      I did see that Prague had a lot of flooding. Luckily it is mostly set up high on hills so I presume that most of it is okay.

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  8. Oh my, what a horrid time of it over there. I thought we were getting it bad here. Glad to know your are safe. Those ? Lime trees are looking great. David.

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    1. Dear David,
      The Lime Trees are spectacular now. Very cool and shady. We think that when we return to Australia we will plant some on the land we buy. AGA has already checked out suppliers.
      The flooding is bad because a lot of the new builds are on flood planes. Older cities are often (Although not always) built up high and as such as protected. Old Kaiserswerth is protected but if the area flooded I think we would see a lot of the new areas under water.
      But as the water is receding now we are more than happy.

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  9. Hello Kirk, I hope you keep evading the bad rain. I just arrived in Cleveland from Taipei, and the rain seems to be following me all over, so according to your reports, perhaps I had better stay away from Europe for the time being.
    --Jim

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    1. Dear Jim,
      Only if you are thinking of Central Europe. I think they have had more than enough!
      The rest is fine and a little rain won't hurt them. Although having said that they are predicting rain for us this afternoon and it is somewhat humid today. In fact as I type this it has already started raining! The extent of your influence and power is impressive!
      Enjoy your time back home.
      Kirk

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  10. So glad things are improving where you are. This has been frightening to watch even from afar.

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    1. Yes, I shall be glad to be slipping off to your part of the world (sort of) for a few days!

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  11. hi Kirk, reading the comments, what a multinational group we are! Anyway, relieved to hear you have escaped the floods unlike many others. I assume that this is climate change, the new normal.

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