• President of the Federal Disaster Relief Agency (THW), Albrecht Broemme: We need better planning and collaboration
  • Hannover/Bonn, Germany. According to the President of the Federal Disaster Relief Agency (THW), Albrecht Broemme, many people in Germany take flood prevention too lightly. "The extensive damage caused by the recent river floods could have been avoided," Broemme stated in an interview with INTERSCHUTZ News. "Everyone can make a contribution – homeowners, companies, administrative bodies and local authorities. "We must raise public awareness of flood prevention and implement the necessary countermeasures."

    Technical control units should not be installed in basements in at-risk regions. The same applies to oil-fired central heating systems. "These are just two of many examples," he emphasizes. In many cases homeowners are simply not aware that they are living in a flood zone. "This can result in a rude awakening," Broemme explains. In many cases detailed planning documents are available which clearly indicate flood-prone areas.

    According to Broemme, there are still significant coordination problems between individual rural districts: "We need to eradicate the many shortcomings in the area of supra-regional planning." In Broemme’s opinion companies that are embarking on construction projects should be told definitively where they can build and where they cannot. This approach is preferable to stopping building projects on account of non-insurability. Of course, the designation of flood areas leads to a drop in land values. This must be tolerated. Anything else would be irresponsible. "Flood prevention cannot be achieved overnight", the THW President admits. We should bear in mind that not until last year did Hamburg finally complete the prevention measures necessitated by the flood disaster of 1962.

    In Hamburg and along the North Sea coast there are many examples of successful flood prevention. Private homeowners living close to the River Elbe have ensured that their garages and entrances are protected by permanent floodgates or easy-to-install components "And on the coast houses are often built on elevated mounds as opposed to low-lying areas," Broemme explains.

    The procurement of suitable plant and equipment plays a key role in flood prevention. This includes high-performance pumps and materials for protecting dykes. Broemme expresses the wish that "one day we can deploy smart alternatives – which already exist – instead of sandbags." The THW will draw conclusions from the recent flooding events: "For example, we want to train dyke protection specialists. At the request of the public authorities they could ensure that the right measures are implemented when dykes are under threat."