The flood situation is keeping many people in the east and north of Germany on tenterhooks. To defuse the situation in the Magdeburg area, the state office for flood protection opened the approximately 135 meter long Pretziener weir on Thursday. This means that around a third of the Elbe's water is now channeled past the cities of Magdeburg and Schönebeck through a canal before flowing back into the Elbe.
Several hundred people watched the events on the surrounding dikes in the morning. The weir was last opened in June 2013.
Elbe water level in Dresden before the six meter mark
The water levels in Saxony's rivers are now falling again - with one exception. According to the latest forecast, hydrologists do not expect a decline for the Elbe until Friday, as a spokesman for the State Office for the Environment said. “An elongated flood peak is forming at the Ústí nad Labem gauge and the water level will only rise a few centimeters by this afternoon,” it said. He then moves downstream. 5.92 meters were recently recorded at the Dresden gauge, and the six-meter mark is expected to be reached there in the evening. Two meters is normal.
Water had already been released from the Kelbra dam in Saxony-Anhalt. As a result, the water level of the Helme River rose and, according to authorities, is now endangering the Nikolrausrieth district in Thuringia. According to the Interior Ministry, emergency services are setting up sandbags on the river bank to prevent the water from overflowing into the small town with around 30 houses. The authorities in both federal states are discussing whether a dike should be opened to channel water into surrounding fields.
First animals evacuated in Serengeti Park
The first animals were evacuated from the Serengeti Park in Hodenhagen, Lower Saxony. Water got into some of the stables on the jungle safari with more than 200 monkeys, a spokeswoman said. Lemurs, ruffed lemurs, prairie dogs and meerkats had to leave their enclosures and are now housed elsewhere on the site north of Hanover.
Large parts of the Serengeti Park Hodenhagen are flooded. The first animals had to be evacuated.
According to the park, large parts of the area are flooded and in some cases cannot be reached at all or can only be reached with Unimogs or tractors. In the northeast of the site, administration and supply buildings, restaurants, shops and some of the lodges are surrounded by water.
Residents can return to the Thuringian town
The residents of the town of Windehausen in Thuringia, which was evacuated due to flooding, can return to their homes. Mayor Matthias Marquardt said he lifted the evacuation order in the morning. After the power supply and wastewater disposal were working again, the reasons for the evacuation no longer existed. The residents of the district could return - but initially only with shuttle buses, not yet with their own vehicles.
Windehausen was flooded at Christmas by meltwater from the Zorge River and groundwater that had been pushed upwards. According to the mayor, the water was around 70 centimeters high on the streets on Christmas Day. 400 of the 500 residents followed the call to voluntarily evacuate.
Fire Department Association: Residents steal sandbags from dikes
Fire departments are complaining about the theft of sandbags during ongoing flood operations. "Sandbags that are installed on dikes are taken away by residents because they themselves do not have sandbags to protect their houses," said the President of the German Fire Brigade Association, Karl-Heinz Banse.
He spoke of many problems during the operations. “There are insults, there are discussions with those affected, why does the water only start to be pumped out on street A and not on street B. Why does my neighbor have the fire department in the basement before me,” said Banse. “There are lots and lots of arguments.” In addition, the fire department has to contend with a lot of onlookers.
According to Banse, thousands of firefighters have been on duty in various parts of Germany since Christmas Eve. “We have a flood situation that we have not experienced in many years.”
More streets evacuated after dike crack near Bremen
After a dike burst in Lilienthal near Bremen, adjacent streets were successfully evacuated. “The measures were relatively calm,” the community said on Thursday night. After an initial evacuation on Wednesday evening, additional streets were cleared during the night "for urgent safety reasons," the fire department announced. People stayed with friends and relatives or in a prepared gymnasium. The electricity was then switched off in the evacuated area.
Because of the Aller flood, around 300 people in the Lower Saxony community of Winsen had to leave their homes. The water level on some streets had risen to around 40 to 50 centimeters, so the electricity was turned off for safety reasons, according to the Celle district. In some places in the Verden district there was still a "threatening situation" on Thursday night due to flooding and weakening dikes, as a fire department spokesman said.
Disoriented man rescued from floodwaters
A disoriented man was rescued from the floods of the Wümme near Rotenburg in Lower Saxony. On Wednesday he got stuck in his car in the river that overflowed its banks, the police announced on Thursday. Police rescued the 84-year-old man from Schleswig-Holstein together with a witness who had made the emergency call. The man was reportedly severely hypothermic and was taken to a hospital. His health then stabilized.
On the upper reaches of the Weser from Hann. From Münden to Höxter in North Rhine-Westphalia, the water levels fell on Wednesday according to the state office, but rising water levels were predicted for the Middle Weser. At the Drakenburg gauge in the Nienburg district, the previous record level from 1981, namely 8.34 meters, could even be exceeded, it was said. In North Rhine-Westphalia, the numerous dams also remain under observation.
Precipitation in sight - "Every drop is actually too much"
There are still no signs of a complete easing of the flood situation. Not as much rain is expected in the next few days as around Christmas, said meteorologist Marcel Schmid from the German Weather Service (DWD) on Thursday morning in Offenbach. "However, every drop is actually one too many."
On Thursday, Schmid did not expect any new precipitation in the flood areas, especially in eastern and northern Germany. However, it could always rain on Friday - especially in the area around Harz, Bergisches Land, Sauerland and Siegerland. According to the meteorologist, only isolated showers are forecast for Saturday in Germany. However, it could rain more frequently on Sunday.
“There is no onset of winter”
And the start of the new year with the weather in Germany? “From Monday it will tend to be a little cooler. But there is no onset of winter,” said meteorologist Schmid. Some snow could remain at higher altitudes.