Germany struggles with floods amid heavy rainfall

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Germany is struggling with widespread flooding caused by heavy rainfall and swelling rivers, with disaster control reaching its limits in some areas due to a lack of sandbags and overflowing dykes. Weeks of persistent rainfall have caused problems in large parts of Germany, and led to the deaths of at least two people, reports Xinhua news agency.

The German Weather Service (DWD) is expecting “heavy rain with only brief interruptions”, as well as storms and gale-force winds into Thursday. Within 30 to 60 hours, there will be up to 50 litres of rain per square meter in many places, and up to 100 litres per square meter in the mountains.

The northern German state of Lower Saxony, which has been hit particularly hard, is now dependent on outside help. Neighbouring federal states have supplied 1.5 million sandbags, while relief workers have also been sent from France, bringing a 1.2-km-long mobile dyke system.

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Although the financial losses incurred in Germany cannot yet be quantified, politicians are calling for a national emergency situation to be declared in order to be able to take on new debt in 2024. “The floods are causing immense damage, especially in Lower Saxony,” Andreas Schwarz, member of the Bundestag for Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), told Spiegel magazine.

“We could suspend the debt brake to cover these costs.” The debt brake is Germany’s instrument for preventing new borrowing. Over the last four years, the government has already suspended the regulation twice, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the energy crisis. During a visit to the flooded area in Lower Saxony on Sunday, Scholz assured the affected states and local authorities that the government would support them “to the best of its ability”.