Germany Watches the Elbe

Update: Elbe River Levels at Dresden on 07/06/13

  • The level of the River Elbe at Dresden is now falling slowly but surely, and is currently at 8.59 metres

Elbe River Levels at Dresden on 06/06/13

  • At midnight the water stood at 8.67m
  • At 10:00 it had risen to 8.76m. It dropped slightly to 8.74m at 20:45 local time
  • By comparison, on 31/05/13, the level was at 3.37m
  • Predictions are that the level should start to drop later today (06/06/13), although some media reports claim the river has already crested

In Germany, Austria and Czech, the flood threat of the Danube appears to be easing and water levels decreasing. Sadly this isn’t the case for Hungary and Slovakia. Hungary is expecting the Danube levels to rise to flood levels in the next 2 days.

But in Germany at least, the subsiding threat of the Danube has meant that everyone is now looking at the worryingly high levels of the River Elbe. In anticipation of heavy flooding, there have already been about 18,000 people evacuated from towns and cities along the Elbe Basin in the German states of Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt. Roads have also been blocked, and some schools and hospitals closed.

Among the cities at risk are Magdeburg, Dresden, Leipzig and Halle. In Magdaburg, levels of the Elbe were around 5 metres higher than normal. Evacuation plans exist for Halle if necessary, where 30,000 people will need to be moved. At least 600 people have been evacuated in Dresden already, where the Elbe levels are around 6 metres higher than normal (at the time of writing, I found statistics that the Elbe level was more than 8 metres high in Dresden, where 2 metres is the normal level). In the 2002 floods, the Elbe reached a record level of 9.4 metres. 30,000 people had to be evacuated from the city during that time.

Dresden floods
Sandbags along the river Elbe, Dresden in 2002

Evacuation plans are running side by side with the building of flood defences. Huge teams made up of police, military and volunteers have been filling sand bags, reinforcing levees and building elevated walkways to flooded homes. These helpers have also been joined by members of Germany’s National Disaster Team. Carolin Petschke, a member of the Disaster Team said:

“In Dresden, we have dozens of members instructing some 300 volunteers on how to build a temporary dam to hold the water back from one of the city’s main thoroughfares,”

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Sources: Deutsche Welle; CBC; Wikipedia