Enormous amounts of rain have caused floods, landslides and expected major damage in Saarland. Initially nothing was known about anyone injured. The German Weather Service (DWD) canceled all severe weather warnings in Germany early this morning.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz has assured Saarland of the federal government’s solidarity. The SPD politician said in Kleinblittersdorf that acute help was now the priority. Once the immediate emergency and danger situation has subsided, it will be a matter of agreeing together what should be done to help those who are in need. “We have a good practice of solidarity there,” said the Chancellor.

“Unfortunately, this is not the first time that we have had to deal with a major natural disaster and so we will of course see what needs to be done here now and what is necessary,” said Scholz. “Everyone can rely on this being done in the best possible way.”

Scholz, who was wearing rubber boots, walked across a flooded street and spoke to those affected. He had originally planned a dialogue event with around 400 citizens in Saarbrücken about the European and local elections on June 9th.

Saarland Prime Minister Anke Rehlinger (SPD) said: “Nobody should be left out in the cold in this difficult situation.” The Saarland state government had already taken the first steps to provide financial aid after the floods. Rehlinger spoke of the most difficult situation since the flood in Saarland more than 30 years ago, the “flood of the century”.

Thousands of missions

According to current knowledge, no people were killed in the severe storm on Friday with hours of rainfall and widespread flooding into the night. One person was injured during an evacuation operation, said the spokesman for the situation center. A person fell into the water and was then taken to a hospital. His condition is currently unknown, according to the Saarland Ministry of the Interior.

Videos showed half-submerged cars, caravans stuck in flood waters and numerous flooded streets. Buildings were poorly protected with sandbags, and in some cases entire streets were under water. The situation center in Saarbrücken has so far registered more than 3,000 police and rescue missions in the state. The police in Saarland alone recorded around 1,000 operations by early Saturday morning (7 a.m.). In addition, according to the Saar Interior Ministry, there were more than 2,400 deployments by fire departments and other aid organizations.

Tense situation in the old town of Blieskastel

The situation eased somewhat early on Saturday morning: the water levels had at least not risen since 1 a.m., said a spokesman for the situation center. However, the rescue workers are still on a large scale. After a restless night, the clean-up begins in the affected regions. The exact extent of the damage will only become visible in the next few days. The situation in Blieskastel remains tense as the water level of the Blies River has continued to rise slightly. The highest level is expected there around midday on Saturday. Numerous helpers tried to prevent the old town of Blieskastel from being flooded.

The State Office for Environmental and Occupational Safety said it was a flood event that occurs every 20 to 50 years. The DWD measured more than 100 liters of rain per square meter in less than 24 hours in some places. A DWD meteorologist said that rivers and infrastructure were not prepared for this heavy rain. For comparison: In the entire month of April, around 74 liters of rain per square meter were measured in Saarland – and this was a sixth more precipitation than normal in that month.

The state capital Saarbrücken, as well as several districts, declared a major disaster. Several buildings in the city had to be evacuated. The city set up alternative accommodation in schools and a citizens’ telephone. In Völklingen, Saarland, streets were taken off the power grid due to the persistent rain: “In Völklingen, millions of euros in damage are expected, especially in the private sector,” it said.

Floods also in Rhineland-Palatinate

Because of the storm, Deutsche Bahn also reported massive disruptions and cancellations in train and rail replacement services in Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland. The railway announced that unnecessary trips to Saarland should be avoided. According to the company, the Saarbahn can only run between Güchenbach and Saargemünd.

Cities in neighboring Rhineland-Palatinate were also affected by continuous rain. Cellars and streets were full and trees fell over, as the coordination office of the Supervisory and Services Authority (ADD) reported. Many smaller streams and rivers overflowed their banks.

Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) thanked the THW, police and fire brigade on X. “Great respect and thanks to all emergency services for their tireless efforts to protect human lives!” she wrote. Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens) also expressed sympathy on Friday evening on the next bad hours.”

On Saturday night, the state government sent a message to citizens and initiated the first steps for financial aid. “Many Saarland residents are worried about their four walls and their belongings or have already suffered severe damage,” said Prime Minister Rehlinger. “So that no time is lost, the state government has taken short-term decisions to provide help to repair the damage that has occurred.” But no one can yet name specific amounts.

In a call late on Friday evening, the Council of Ministers identified a so-called elementary event of supra-local significance. According to the State Chancellery, this means that state aid can flow. In addition, municipalities could deviate from budget balancing regulations due to the extraordinary emergency situation. “The state government and municipalities stand together – like the whole of Saarland,” said Interior Minister Reinhold Jost (SPD).