Dozens missing as houses collapse in freak floods in Germany
Heavy rain and once-in-a-generation floods on Wednesday night caused the collapse of six houses in Germany’s western state of Rhineland-Palatinate, leaving four dead and many people missing or stranded on rooftops, police said on Thursday.
Some 30 people were missing and about 25 more homes were at risk of collapse in the district of Schuld bei Adenau, in the hilly Eiffel region, SWR broadcaster said earlier, citing police.
“We currently have an unclear number of people on roofs who need to be rescued,” a spokesperson for the Koblenz police told Reuters.
“There are many places where fire brigades and rescue workers have been deployed. We do not yet have a very precise picture because rescue measures are continuing,” the spokesperson added.
Two fireman drowned and the army was deployed to help stranded residents on Wednesday, after a slow-moving low-pressure weather system caused once-in-a-generation floods.
Rail, road and river transport was disrupted with shipping suspended on the Rhine river.
Anyone who has been paying attention will note that large-scale nature-related disasters are increasing.
Every few weeks it seems, Earth unleashes devastating violence of some sort or other. An earthquake—a tornado—a tsunami—a massive storm—a flood—a drought—a rash of wildfires. It levels property, destroys homes, decimates crops, claims lives. And another constellation of survivors are left breathless in its wake, tasked with trying to piece their shattered lives back together.
It is a dreadful reminder of an awesome and important reality.
In our modern world, industrialization has done much to insulate a great many of us from the elements. We have paved over our land. We have abandoned our farms in favor of climate-controlled homes, offices and malls. Concrete, steel and glass shield us from routine rain, hail, sleet, snow, heat, chill. These former crop-killers are now mere inconveniences, for most of us.
It’s only when nature gets really nasty—when rains turn into floods, when blizzards cancel flights, when droughts demand water restrictions, when a temblor topples infrastructure—that we even think to acknowledge the power it still holds over us. It dwarfs us. Impressive as our tower-of-Babel society is, it remains awkwardly vulnerable to the sheer elemental power of the planet in its fury.
History shows, in fact, that whole societies have risen or fallen because of favorable or foul forces of nature.
And in recent times, violent outbursts of these forces have been speeding up in tempo.
You can read more in our free booklet Why ‘Natural’ Disasters?