10th anniversary of Elbe flooding: Timely information is the basis of preparedness

UBA publishes new brochure about flooding

Mid-August marks the tenth anniversary of the flood of the century along the Elbe River, which caused enormous damage in summer 2002. The associated damages amounted to than eleven billion euros in Germany. The floods affected more than 370,000 people; 21 people died. So what has happened since then? Back in 2002, the means of public information were lacking. Many people were caught by surprise. This cannot be allowed to happen again! Flood maps now indicate the risks of and areas affected by flooding. “Floods are recurring natural hazards. This is why it is important to understand how they are caused and to take preventive measures“, said Jochen Flasbarth, President of the Federal Environment Agency (UBA). The new UBA brochure Hochwasser - Verstehen, Erkennen, Handeln! (Flooding - understand, recognize, act!) offers comprehensive insight into the topic of flooding. Fact remains that there are now many cities, roads and industrial parks in areas that were flooded, and thus the risk of future damage caused by flooding is still high. “The rivers need more space to spread naturally in the event of a flood“, continued Flasbarth. “Flood protection dams must be built further back to reconnect former alluvial zones with the rivers. More water can thus be retained in the event of a flood.”

The loss of natural floodplains is a key factor that influences the severity of damages. Dike relocation has already occurred in the town of Lenzen in Brandenburg along the Elbe and downriver from Aken in Saxony-Anhalt, but these measures are not enough. The development of construction along the river must also be considered, and permits for new construction near the water are no longer easily granted.

There are other possibilities to take action in this context. New legislation ensures that the public has better information about flood risk. By the end of 2013, so-called ‘flood hazard maps’ will assess flood risks, in accordance with the EU Floods Directive and the regulations of the Federal Water Act. The Länder must now draw up flood maps in a timely fashion and in standardised form, if possible. These maps must be made available to the public. The maps will have information about the possible extent and levels of a flood and will show the areas protected by dikes that might be affected should the dikes fail. Now, people who are potentially at risk and homeowners will be able to take their own precautionary measures.

German Environment Agency

Wörlitzer Platz 1
06844 Dessau-Roßlau

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 flood  Elbe river  precautionary concept