Authorities take precautions as rivers across Germany continue to flood


Days of heavy rain and melting snow have caused water levels in a number of Germany’s major rivers to rise, with authorities warning flooding is likely to continue through the weekend.

The Rhine River in the country’s southwest has witnessed a particular surge in recent days after the Eleanor weather pattern brought rain storms to the entire continent.

A spokeswoman for the flooding authority in the city of Mainz said Saturday the river had already broken its banks at several locations and that water was still “rising intensely.”

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Read more: After the thaw, Germany braces itself for flooding

High tide along the Rhine

In Cologne, it is expected that by Sunday the river will breach the 8-meter (26-foot) mark and that it might rise to just shy of 9 meters. The Rhine’s normal level in this part of the Rhineland region is about 3.5 meters (12 feet).

The state capital of North-Rhine Westphalia, Düsseldorf, has meanwhile erected fortifications along its old harbor to prevent any water from getting into the low-lying areas of its old town. A number of restaurants along the river may have to stop operations if the waters continue to climb. Some low-lying minor bridges over rivers and canals feeding into the Rhine have also been closed off.

In the former German capital Bonn, water has spilled over onto the promenade along the left bank of the Rhine, which has been sealed off from public access.

Sand bags along Danube river (picture-alliance/dpa/A. Weigel)

Some areas are preparing for even greater floods with sand bags

While the situation remains under control, authorities have taken precautions in the greater Bonn area to minimize any potential damage.

Villages south of Bonn have started fortifying their defenses, with residents living along the river being told to take measures to ensure their homes are safe from flooding.

Shipping operations, including ferries crossing the river, have been severely limited in many parts of the Rhineland and are expected to cease completely if the river reaches 9 meters. This could happen if the Moselle River, which flows into the Rhine, continues to rise as well.

Moselle spills over

Water levels along the Moselle River in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate have also been surging and are expected to continue to do so. The river, which crosses three European countries, has reached almost 7 meters, with another 60 centimeters (2 feet) expected over the weekend.

In tourist villages like Cochem along the Moselle, the river has spilled over into streets and shipping has been stopped altogether for several days.

Threat of evacuations along the Danube

The situation was most critical along the Danube River, where some houses have already been inundated. Authorities expect this trend to continue despite the fact that the water level in some parts of the Danube in southern Bavaria has already started to fall again.

Evacuations might have to be ordered if the river rises further, and locals have been advised to be prepared for more flooding.

Other rivers also affected

The Neckar River in southwestern Germany was also closed to commercial shipping, with water spilling over into some parts of local villages and towns. Locals have been advised not to park their vehicles close to the river bank in case of further flooding. The popular tourist city of Heidelberg had to cordon off parts of its historic old city because of moderate flooding there.

The Main, Saar and Weser rivers were also affected by flooding, but to a lesser degree. Meteorologists expect weather conditions in the upcoming days to help alleviate the overall situation.

The effects of the flooding, though relatively mild compared to previous river surges, are already expected to cost hundreds of millions of euros in public funds.

Read more: After the thaw, Germany braces itself for flooding