The photos remind us of those in Limburg: a beautiful river that turns into a devastating body of water in no time. The Kothbach, usually little more than a waterway, ran like a brown river swirling through the streets of the Austrian town of Hallen, near Salzburg, on a Saturday evening.
The reason for the absence of injuries is due to early warning. Hallen residents have been ordered to stay indoors after the heavy rains. Some were later evacuated by heavy trucks and boats.
Residents elsewhere in Austria were released unharmed, although the physical damage was extensive. In Salzburg, through which the Salzach River flows, in Kitzbühel and Kufstein, streets were closed and residents evacuated.
Hence the amount of precipitation was intense. Decades-old river records vanished from the books in no time. In some places in Austria, 80 liters of water per square meter has fallen in a short time, compared to amounts that caused major problems in Western Europe last week.
It was also hit in Germany. This time it is not in the west that is hit hard, but in the south and east. In Bavaria, Berchtesgaden, Bischofswiesen and Ramsau, among others, were threatened by the Ashe River, which reached a record level. Residents were evacuated, at least two people died, and it is not yet clear exactly how. Several villages in the eastern German state of Saxony were temporarily inaccessible due to fallen trees and inundation of roads and railways.
Yesterday, Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the disaster zone in the west, where at least 160 people were killed and about 150 missing. Merkel visited the cities of Szold and Adenau. “The German language hardly has any words to describe this devastation,” she said. It described the damage as “terrifying” and “unrealistic” and provided 300 million euros in emergency aid. Additional billions will follow later on for reconstruction. “This beautiful area needs to be restored to its full glory.”
Italy also had to deal with severe weather this weekend. The inconvenience was great both in the north and in the south. In South Tyrol, the water level of the Ahr River – not to be confused with the river of the same name in Germany, which did so much damage there – has risen to frightening heights. Sicily also suffered from floods, particularly in and around Palermo.
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