According to initial estimates, a severe storm surge with record water levels caused hundreds of millions of euros in damage on the coast of Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. In the meantime, clean-up work began in the affected cities and communities from Flensburg to Lübeck and Rügen.

Numerous people had to leave their homes due to flooding. In several places, dikes broke or were flooded. A woman on Fehmarn died in the storm on Friday. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania escaped with lower water levels and less damage. On Saturday morning, water levels dropped significantly everywhere as the storm subsided.

Flensburg experienced a once-in-a-century flood, where the water level reached 2.27 meters above normal during the night, according to the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH). Parts of the port area were flooded. A similarly high value was last measured in Flensburg in 1904 at 2.23 meters. For safety reasons, the municipal utilities switched off the electricity in the affected areas at the port.

Futile fight against the water

The wife of the owner of the Mc Nelson pub in Flensburg said on Saturday that she was still completely shocked. Unfortunately the water ran into the basement. They would have sealed all the doors and windows. “We really thought about it so much, but what we didn’t think about was that it was coming out of some holes in the walls.”

An employee at another harborside restaurant said they fought until 7 p.m. “Then we had to get out.” The water was up to her stomach.

The Rendsburg-Eckernförde district triggered a disaster alarm on Friday evening. In Eckernförde the maximum value was around 2.1 meters above normal.

In the old town of Eckernförde, the authorities offered voluntary evacuations, but according to District Administrator Rolf-Oliver Schwemmer, hardly any use was made of this. “We cannot pump against the Baltic Sea,” said deputy city fire chief Alexander Rüß. In other places such as Brodersby and Arnis, relief workers also brought residents to safety, a total of more than 2,000 people.

In Ostholstein, several beach walls were broken by the floods and dikes were damaged. Dikes broke near Maasholm and Arnis on the Schlei and south of the Olpenitz harbor, and a dike in Damp could not be maintained either. In Schleswig the harbor was flooded and the electricity was cut off. Pleasure boats sank in some harbors.

More than 2,000 emergency services were there

The fire brigade, rescue services, police and the Technical Relief Agency (THW) were deployed with a large number of forces. Schleswig-Holstein’s Prime Minister Daniel Günther thanked the more than 2,000 emergency services. “We are really extremely grateful to everyone who helped during these hours,” said the CDU politician on Saturday. “Schleswig-Holstein stood together in the face of this terrible flood disaster.”

Günther got an overview of the damage in his hometown of Eckernförde, among other places. “We are very happy about how few people were hurt.”

According to the state fire brigade association, there were well over 1,000 operations in the country. Around 150 women and men from THW supported the work in Eckernförde and Lübeck. In Damp (Rendsburg-Eckernförde district), the THW also took part in the security measures, including at a rehabilitation clinic.

There was a fatal accident in a storm on the Baltic Sea island of Fehmarn on Friday afternoon. A 33-year-old woman was killed in her car by a falling tree.

Impacts in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania are smaller

The Rostock fire department recorded 19 missions due to storms and floods. The emergency services secured a sinking ship in the city harbor on Friday morning. In Rostock the water level reached almost 1.50 meters above normal during the night.

In Sassnitz on Rügen, the flood damaged the floor slabs of the beach promenade. Many slabs were lifted by the flooding and partially washed away.

The minister responsible for coastal protection, Till Backhaus (SPD), said: “Compared to Schleswig-Holstein and southern Denmark, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania was lucky because of the wind direction.” Coastal defenses and dunes would have protected areas that might otherwise have been flooded.

Traffic is slowly returning to normal

Rail traffic, which was stopped on several regional routes in Schleswig-Holstein on Friday evening, started again on Saturday. There were still restrictions on shipping to the North Sea islands and islands. The storm forced the water out of the Wadden Sea and caused extremely low water levels.

Ferry traffic between Germany and Denmark started again on Saturday. As the shipping company Scandlines announced, ships had been sailing on the Puttgarden-Rødby route again since early this morning. Ferry operations on the Rostock-Gedser line should also be resumed.

Only when the water has drained can experts begin to record damage. In addition to dikes and flood protection systems, port facilities, bank reinforcements and buildings are also affected. Storm surges cause high costs on beaches when some of them are swept into the sea and have to be replenished later. The head of the disaster control staff in Schleswig-Holstein’s Ministry of the Interior spoke during the night of damage in the three-digit million range.

The Bundestag member of the South Schleswig Voters’ Association, Stefan Seidler, reacted to the consequences of the storm surge by criticizing politics. This storm must wake you up. “The water can flow completely unhindered into our cities and towns,” said Seidler. “People were left to their own devices. That can’t be right.”