After the devastating floods in Saarland last weekend, Saarland Interior Minister Reinhold Jost (SPD) gave the all-clear. According to the latest information, “the weather situation could be downgraded,” he said in the Saarland State Chancellery in Saarbrücken. Only “moderate flooding” can now be expected. “I think this is good news,” he said, referring to the forecast for further rainfall.

Nevertheless, all emergency services are in reserve “and are waiting for a deployment that will hopefully not take place because the weather situation is developing in such a way that the situation will not worsen further.” The situation will continue to be monitored very closely. “We are prepared,” said a spokesman for the Interior Ministry. “At the moment it looks very calm, very clear and relaxed,” he said.

On the Pentecost weekend, people in Saarland and the southwest of Rhineland-Palatinate in particular fought against floods. Enormous amounts of rain caused flooding, landslides and flooded streets and cellars. In Saarland, a 67-year-old died as a result of a flood rescue operation. According to Jost, a “comrade” also died of heart failure after a rescue mission. It is a member of the German Red Cross from the Merzig district association.

Water sweeps away cars in Upper Palatinate

In the municipality of Kastl in the Upper Palatinate, masses of water have pushed cars across the streets and trapped people in their houses. No one was injured, said a spokesman for the Amberg Integrated Control Center in the evening. Those stuck have already been freed. The Lauterach river overflowed its banks in the center of the town.

The cars that were swept away by the floods were washed up on a bridge, the spokesman said. There they ensured that the water accumulated additionally. The vehicles would now be recovered using heavy equipment – such as excavators and wheel loaders.

There are an estimated 200 emergency services from the technical relief agency, the fire department, the water rescue service and the rescue service on site. Since the early afternoon, the fire brigade has been deployed on a number of occasions in the control center’s operational area, said the spokesman.

Water levels are expected to rise moderately

There are currently no major operational situations in Saarland. According to the flood situation report, water levels in the Saar catchment area will no longer fall, but are expected to rise again in the morning. However, the increase will be “moderate” due to the announced amount of precipitation, it was said. Since there are also expected to be thunderstorms, there could be a “short-term, sharp rise in water levels” in individual smaller bodies of water.

Where this will be the case cannot be predicted. The State Office for Environmental Protection and Occupational Safety said people around small bodies of water and in areas that are particularly at risk of flooding and are still flooded should therefore be particularly careful.

Historic flood

The Saarland Prime Minister Anke Rehlinger (SPD) said that the flood was “a real catastrophe of historic proportions” after the flood of the century in 1993. There is no district that was not affected. There are more than 4,000 missions in the balance sheet. It is still too early to get a complete picture of the damage. The state government is already promising financial support. Exactly how this is done is still being finalized with the municipalities. “By the end of the week we will say what the path to this will be and where you can submit the applications,” she said.

According to the German Weather Service (DWD), an official warning of continuous rain continues to apply for Saarland and the southwest of Rhineland-Palatinate. For Saarland, rainfall amounts of 10 to 20 liters per square meter are expected, and in places during thunderstorms up to 30 liters per square meter. The rain should then move away in the afternoon or evening, said a spokesman.

In Rhineland-Palatinate there could be thunderstorms and heavy rain in the north and northeast during the afternoon and into the night of Wednesday – with 15 to 30 liters of precipitation per square meter, in places 40 to 50 liters or more in the daily total.

Balance sheet of storm damage

The amount of damage caused by continuous rain and storms in Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate cannot be estimated for a few days at the earliest. According to the General Association of Insurers (GDV) in Berlin, the water must first have completely drained away before the damage can be assessed. This will take a few more days and also depends on how the further forecast rainfall develops. R V Insurance in Wiesbaden warns against repairing water damage hastily and without specialist knowledge.

According to GDV, 46 percent in Rhineland-Palatinate and 47 percent in Saarland have taken out insurance to protect against natural risks such as heavy rain and floods. On a national average, 54 percent are insured against all natural hazards.