Saturday, February 20, 2010

Germany prepares for floods as big thaw looms

Several regions around Germany are preparing for floods in the next few weeks as rising temperatures are expected to melt masses of snow accumulated over a long, cold winter.

Though experts see no immediate danger, local authorities are preparing for possible flooding as rising temperatures and rainfall have been forecast for the beginning of March. Several states have installed public text-message warning systems as well as online water-level monitors. Huge state funds have been invested in flood prevention in the past few years.

The director of the local Flood Protection Authority Reinhard Vogt told news agency DDP that a water level as high as eight metres is possible in Cologne at the beginning of March. Seven metres is enough to threaten the first floods in residential areas, Vogt said, but he added that the city was well-equipped to deal with the danger. "We don't have any problems up to ten metres," he said.

Cologne has invested some €260 million into flood protection in the past few years, building or renovating 60 kilometres of dykes and constructing new mobile protective walls.

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