A year ago, in the flood disaster in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia, 183 people died. Her death was tragic, also because it could have been avoided. The fact that so many people drowned was a result of the total failure of civil protection. Meteorologists’ warnings went unheeded for days.
The population was left not only carelessly, but criminally culpable in ignorance of the impending dangers to life, because state authorities did not feel responsible or were too ignorant to grasp the impending catastrophe in its full extent.
When Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser announced the measures to prevent a repeat of such a disaster on Wednesday, there was no apology for the previous system failure.
This is not the responsibility of the new minister, Ralph Tiesler, the recently installed President of the Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief, or Gerd Friedsam from the Federal Agency for Technical Relief. But all three presented the conclusions from the organizational failure a year ago on behalf of this state.
The ignorance, sloppiness and negligence with which politicians and officials saw the floods coming in July 2021 or, worse still, blinded themselves, can only be explained by their naivety towards world events after the blocks collapsed at the turn of the year 1989/1990.
At that time, German politicians apparently believed that from now on only peace dividends could be pocketed and all risk precautions stopped, both in the military and in the civilian sphere. The Bundeswehr and civil defense were disarmed, both permanently weakened by the abolition of military service and civilian service. sirens? Why else! Helicopter? war stuff! civil defense drills? It’s peace, folks!
Politicians acted as if floods and storms had been abolished from then on, as had the threat from the no longer existing Eastern Bloc. What stupidity, what short-sightedness! Floods such as those caused by the Ahr have repeatedly occurred over the centuries. They are not even a consequence of climate change, which at best exacerbates them.
But to deal with it, it has to be trained. Rescue only works if the rescuers are trained. When helicopter pilots know where they can safely fly their mission. And crisis management teams also have to repeatedly practice how command lines are structured.
Especially their members from the public service form a reliable structure. Well-trained officials are always a lifeline for politicians who are overburdened and overestimate themselves.
After all, being able to function quickly in the event of natural disasters also means that not each of the 16 federal states sets up its own structures, because the Bundeswehr and THW must be able to rely on fixed and uniform decision-making processes. All in all, a task that this country must give priority to and that can only be tackled by a real community effort.